AMES – Iowa State University is releasing new details in an effort to clear the air on ISU President Steven Leath’s use of a small plane owned by the university.
Leath has been under fire for several weeks, but a university spokeswoman says Leath has a pilot’s license and was not breaking any rules.
One of the main issues for people was that Leath was flying the university-owned Cirrus in-part for personal use. There were four instances when President Leath piloted that aircraft to, “connect with supporters and prospective donors across Iowa and the country.”
The university says some of this relationship-building was done at Leath’s cabin in North Carolina, which answers questions about why he was taking the plane there.
ISU also says, “President Leath never used university aircraft for purely personal trips.” And according to university policy, extending business trips for personal reasons is allowed, as long as the employee pays for that part of the trip. According to flight logs and university invoices, Leath reimbursed the university for the full cost of these four trips – which even includes the business portions.
Another major issue for people was that Leath damaged the Cirrus during one of those trips – and there were questions about what exactly happened and how the damage was paid for. On July 14th, 2015, Leath experienced a hard landing in the Cirrus because he encountered what the university is calling a “microburst.”
This caused a wing flap of the Cirrus to clip a runway light at the airport in Bloomington, Illinois. The total cost of the incident was $17,373.70, which includes the cost of the damage, storage of the plane and the cost of picking Leath and his wife up from Bloomington.
The university covered the costs, comparing the incident to an employee damaging a car during a business trip. However, Leath made a donation to the ISU Foundation in an amount equal to the cost of the damage.
ISU is hoping to be more transparent with this information. Stay with Local 5 as more details are released.
Here is a link to ISU’s FAQ website: http://www.ur.iastate.edu/flightservice/