Over the past week several articles and opinion letters have misconstrued statements attributed to me about President Leath’s use of Iowa State University Flight Service. I feel it necessary to set the record straight.

In the context of a long discussion, with a reporter about the history of the ISU Flight Service Department, I stated that according to ISU policy, university aircraft should not be used for purely personal purposes. While this is true, nothing I have known or have read about President Leath’s use of Flight Service or university aircraft is in violation of ISU policy. When ISU employees travel for university business, the university pays for the transportation expenses related to the travel. This is true even if the employee conducts personal activities while on the trip.

For example, an employee may need to be in Chicago for a Monday meeting but choose to go on Friday afternoon and spend the weekend visiting family or spend some vacation time after the meeting, extending their time in Chicago. Because the Monday meeting is university business, the transportation costs associated with traveling to and from Chicago would be covered by the university, regardless of the personal activities of the employee. I am not aware of any time that the university paid the transportation costs for President Leath when he was traveling for purely personal reasons. To suggest that I believe that the travel described in the various news articles violated policy or state law is simply wrong. I have no such belief. In fact, my understanding is directly opposite to this conclusion.

It has also been reported that I said that President Leath would not be allowed to fly university planes by himself under policy or university insurance requirements. This is also not true. I am not sure if I misspoke or if the reporter misunderstood me, but the fact is, after being certified I am certain that President Leath is authorized to fly the smaller of the two planes and is recognized on the university’s insurance policy as an authorized pilot. To my knowledge, there is no requirement in the insurance policy or university policy that the smaller of the two planes be flown with more than one pilot. I understand that President Leath is not FAA certified to fly the larger of the university’s aircraft and has not done so.

It is also being suggested that President Leath’s use of university aircraft and the fact that he was piloting university aircraft was not known by me or other university leaders or by the general public. This is not the case. The fact that President Leath is a pilot was widely reported when he was hired nearly five years ago. In 2013, the Des Moines Register did extensive reporting about President Leath’s travel including the fact that he would pilot university aircraft and fly himself on university business. I certainly was aware of this and it seems like the newspaper that published this article and its readers were as well. As the article notes, this fact has had a positive impact on university fundraising efforts and in spreading the mission of Iowa State University.

Finally, I don’t remember hearing about the hard landing incident at the time it occurred. But I know that University Flight Service was notified because the repairs were arranged by them. The fact that I did not know about this incident is not alarming to me. While I was ultimately responsible for Flight Service, it was not unusual for expenses at this level to have been approved without my knowledge or supervision.

University Flight Service has been an important tool of the university for decades. With the increasing demands on the University President, I presume it will continue to be an important form of transportation. Despite what has been reported, I have no reason to believe that President Leath has ever misused university aircraft or acted deceptively.

Warren Madden

Senior Vice President Emeritus

Iowa State University


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