Light explains college travel
by KRISTIN HEINICHEN
NELSONVILLE - Thousands of dollars in travel expenses accrued by Hocking College President John Light and college personnel are not the result of globe-trotting, according to Light.
In response to an article that appeared in The Sunday Messenger, Light issued an all-staff e-mail - sent on Sunday - explaining inbound and outbound travel undertaken by those affiliated with the college.
"... All visits were directly connected to Hocking College development and recruitment," Light said in the memo.
The Messenger's report about Light's travels said that he spent about $20,000 over the past 2 ½ years for airfare alone for intercontinental and domestic travel.
Included in these expenses was airfare to Inyati, South Africa.
Light, in the memo, denies taking the trip to South Africa. Cindy Baden, Hocking College chief of staff, relayed that no such ticket was even purchased.
"There were no trips to South Africa," Light wrote in the memo.
Travel records obtained by Brown Publishing Co. through the college-affiliated travel agency, Hocking Hills Travel, show the destination code INY - which is the Inyati airport code - on Light's travel itinerary.
In the memo, Light corroborated traveling to the other countries
reported in the article.
"The trips listed included World Future Society Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada; London for our crossover project with Havering College, which included students and staff in addition to the
president; Milan, Italy where Hocking has student study abroad programs; Montego Bay to visit with Sandals officials; Kingston, Jamaica to meet with the prime minister for new alternative energy connections; and to Buenos Aires for continuation of student inbound and outbound programs with the International Buenos Hotel Restaurant School," Light said in the memo.
The memo states that since 2001, more than 35 staff and more than 500 students have "traveled on study abroad and international trips..." The memo did not list the specific number of trips, nor the cost of those trips.
Countries that administrators, instructors and board members traveled to were Belize, Canada, Peru, United Kingdom, France, Bahamas, Italy, St. Kitts (an island in the West Indies), Mexico, Jamaica, Micronesia (an island located in the Pacific Ocean), Cyprus (an island located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea), Turks and Caicos (both Caribbean islands) and Ecuador. Trips were also made to Venezuela, China and others in the name of recruiting.
However, this is just a partial list of travel for that time period,
Light explained in the memo. The memo did not elaborate if the college shouldered the cost of these trips. Light could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
Travel records show that Light's treks are subsidized through the Presidential Development Fund, which is financed through vending and food services on campus.
Partial airfare records Brown Publishing Co.obtained for 2005 to 2007 show the college purchased more than $14,000 in travel for individuals and employees affiliated with the college.
The travel records show airfare, not the cost of travel amenities such as accommodations, other transportation and meals.
Light did make mention in the memo of how the demographics of its student population sets Hocking College apart from other two-year colleges.
"Approximately 80 percent of our students (hail) from outside our local community. These 'outside our area' students create more than 50 percent of our jobs," Light stated.
However, Brown Publishing Co. is waiting for documentation to verify Light's figures. Requested public records showing the college's demographics have not been released, and BPC has not been able to determine if the costs of recruiting trips have been offset by the enrollment of international students.