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Post-Convention Activities: Reception to Meal Ticket

August 16, 2011

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

In last week’s post, I wrote that administrators operate differently than professors at our annual AEJMC convention, often running their departments, schools and colleges online from afar while attending events on site.

One of our tasks is preparing for and then overseeing open-house receptions. Iowa State combined its event with Ohio University, Louisiana State University and the Scripps Leadership Academy.

I noticed something peculiar at our late Friday evening reception, a catered event. People were eating—a lot. Trays were emptied, and I know the reason.

Food at the Renaissance Grand Hotel and surrounding restaurants was as pricey as any you might find in midtown Manhattan. For instance, I paid $21.5 for a cup of coffee, a bagel and glass of orange juice at one of the restaurants.

Upon returning home, the first thing I did was change our existing policy (made in 2008, a difficult budgetary year) of not allowing meal reimbursement during convention travel.

Greenlee School professors are each given $2000 professional development accounts, which they use for travel-related expenses. We felt it was unfair for faculty to pay for those meals and reduce funds in their accounts, which usually allow for two or three convention-related trips.

So I sent this email, citing ISU’s policy about meals without receipts, as I doubted faculty kept them because meal reimbursement hitherto was not allowed.

In consideration for the high price of food at the St. Louis convention of AEJMC, I have added an additional $200 to each Faculty Development account for meal stipends. These funds may only be used for faculty who attend conferences or who travel on university-sanctioned business. To claim part of your $200, itemized receipts must be turned in with other receipts for expenses after attending a conference. The additional stipend must be spent on meals for the faculty member only.

If you did not keep receipts at the recent AEJMC convention, we can process meals in this manner. For out of state trips, such as AEJMC, you must be in travel status from 7:30 a.m. through 8:00 a.m. to claim breakfast, noon through 1:00 p.m. to claim lunch, and 5:30 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. to claim dinner. You will need receipts if you claim meals exceeding $75 per day. No receipts are required for less than that amount. You cannot claim alcohol. Gratuities can be included. …

I hope you find this satisfactory.

I justified giving faculty more funds for their accounts on several levels. Most have not had significant raises since 2008. Last year we raised our endowments from $3.9 million to $4.7 million. Faculty productivity had a role in that achievement.

I also had to make another post-convention adjustment in that two professors staffed our jobs table throughout most of the conference. Because of applicant interest in our School, they were extra busy and didn’t get to socialize or even see tourist parts of St. Louis.

They will not have to use their professional development accounts to fund their AEJMC travel, even though they had presentations, as primarily they were representing the institution in speaking to potential applicants.

My only regret is that one of the two faculty members officially requested that I do this. Even though I approved it, I should have thought of this courtesy myself.

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