Professor and former CU President Hank Brown gave the students in his honors class a fully paid trip last fall. This trip was rumored to have been paid for with student fees or taxpayer money. An investigation has proven these rumors to be false.
“There was no cost to the university,” Brown said.
No money was taken from school funding for the trip, said CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard.
So where did the money come from?
The syllabus for the class, “Icons of the American Public,” addressed the monetary hurdle of the trip in this way: “Transportation and lodging expenses will be provided without charge for the visit to Washington, D.C. (November 14-16) for those who travel with the class and stay in the hotel arranged for by the university. Students are responsible for their own food, ancillary transportation, and/or any other miscellaneous expenditure. Any student traveling separately is responsible for making and paying for his or her own travel and lodging expenses.”
While the syllabus did not say where this money was coming from, Monica Ly, 21, a junior broadcast news and political science major who went on the trip, said the students found out that Brown himself funded the excursion.
“Hank Brown paid for all of us,” Ly said. “We don’t know officially. I think there were donations from alumni. That’s what he said. But I know a lot of it came out of Hank Brown’s pocket.”
Brown confirmed and clarified this statement.
“A portion of it that covered the cost of the travel for university folks and students who were not members of the Presidents Leadership Class came from a donation I made to the foundation,” Brown said about his contributions. “The endowment for the Newton professorship that I hold was used to cover the cost for the PLC students which made up a portion of the group. It was two separate sources. My donation was $6,000.”
The class focused on the founding period of the U.S. through events, individuals and concepts as depicted in various artistic renditions in the U.S. Capitol building, the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, the floor of the U.S. Senate and exploration of the legislative process, according to the class syllabus.
The class included the all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Nov. 14-16 in 2008 in order for the students to see these icons first hand, something Brown says was critical.
“I think it makes all the difference in the world to be able to see all the things you study,” Brown said. “It makes everything that much more impactful.”
According to Brown, 19 students attended the trip from the CU campus, six from the Colorado Springs campus and a few invited donors attended as well.
Students say the trip was a positive one and reviews of the trip can only be defined as upbeat.
“It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” Ly said.
Ly says that the trip was extremely worthwhile because it not only allowed for class material to be applied to real life situations, but also provided a unique class bonding experience.
“It was pretty intimate because it was such a small class,” Ly said. “We definitely got to know each other, especially on the trip.”
The only qualm Ly says the students had was the timing of the trip.
“Some people thought it would have been nice if the trip was earlier in the semester so we could have gotten to know one another sooner,” Ly said.
Field trips, according to most students, are always a fun experience, but an expensive one.
“I would definitely (want to go on a trip),” said Erin Flynn, 17, a freshman biochemistry major.
Flynn says that any professor who has the opportunity to pay for out-of-the-classroom experiences should be able to do so, and if the trip were paid for, she would absolutely attend.
“If it wasn’t for the money I’m not sure if I would do it,” Flynn said.
Ly said it was helpful for Brown to pay for the trip.
“Yeah, I don’t know if other (trips) could happen,” Ly said. “I just know the costs for other trips like this would be staggering.”
Despite the fact that Flynn says most students would be interested in a trip similar to the “Icons of the American Republic” trip, she says only certain students should be offered the opportunity.
“It may seen harsh but (not all students should be able to go),” Flynn said. “They did it in the honors program because we’re more academically motivated and can appreciate the value more.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Emily Zarka at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.