ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico’s outgoing president is responding to questions about an expensive stay at a fancy New York hotel and how he treats his staff.
In September, the Lobos played at Rutgers in New Jersey. The team stayed at an Embassy Suites nearby, according to an Athletics Department spokesman, that KRQE News 13 found costs, on average, less than $200 a night.
Meanwhile, UNM President Bob Frank stayed at the JW Marriott Essex House in Manhattan across the street from Central Park. At nearly $800 a night, the bill came to $3,800 that was reimbursed by the UNM Foundation.
At a time when money is tight, students have mixed feelings about it.
“It doesn’t seem like something he should have been doing. Seems kind of inappropriate,” said UNM Student Shani Harvie. “I’m sure that there’s lots of cheaper hotels in New York, so it doesn’t really make much sense.”
“In the larger scheme of things, with as much money as this place works with, I don’t think a couple nights at a hotel does make that big of a difference,” said UNM Student Aaron Griego.
An itinerary shows President Frank had two commitments during his four-night stay: a donor reception in Manhattan and the UNM football game at Rutgers.
By staying in Manhattan, Frank’s itinerary showed he had a two-hour drive to get to the football game in New Jersey where the Athletics Department was staying.
In a statement, Frank noted the donor event in Manhattan “has great potential to bring revenue to the University” and said, at a time when rates were high because of Fashion Week, the Marriott was actually less than the average in Manhattan.
While the UNM Foundation said the “base rate of $799.00 appeared to be high, even for New York City,” it confirmed the rates were “unusually high due to demand, such as the United Nations being in session.”
Also, because the hotel was near the donor reception, the UNM Foundation found the cost to be “reasonable under the circumstances.”
This comes out along with an internal audit of President Frank’s expenses and a review requested by the Board of Regents that found “shades of a hostile working environment” under Frank.
The audit found Frank owed $5,301.25 to the Foundation and $216.32 to the University after he’d been reimbursed too much for expenses.
A review also found President Frank failed to report taking any vacation since his hire in 2012.
The Regents met behind closed doors on Thursday, and KRQE News 13 has learned the Board will meet again Wednesday to discuss Frank’s future with UNM.
Frank recently announced he would not seek a second term after his current contract ends on May 31, 2017.