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Michael Schroder
Former CSUSM Dean Michael Schroder is under criminal investigation for spending tens of thousands of dollars in unallowable expenses. Photo via CSUSM
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Former CSUSM dean under criminal investigation

SAN MARCOS — A former dean at California State University at San Marcos (CSUSM) is being investigated by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office for allegedly spending tens of thousands of dollars on improper travel expenditures.

Michael Schroder, who was the dean of extended studies until February 2020, was dismissed by the university after the Union-Tribune reported at least $41,000 in unallowable expenses.

Schroder is also being asked to make restitution for these expenses. Margaret Chantung, the school’s chief communications officer, said she could not disclose how much restitution is being sought or any further information provided to the District Attorney’s Office related to Schroder due to the ongoing criminal investigation.

A spokesperson for District Attorney Summer Stephan said they do not comment on ongoing investigations.

According to the 2019 formal audit conducted by the CSU Chancellor’s Office into expenses incurred by Schroder between July 2017 and June 2019, these expenses included a Guns N’ Roses concert and an NFL game that he billed as official college business.

“We found that the dean submitted fraudulent hospitality claims in at least 33 instances for the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019. Attendees the dean listed on many of his hospitality meal claims stated they were not at the meal. Further, the dean engaged in excessive spending by frequently staying at hotels that exceeded the allowable California State University hotel maximum and claiming reimbursement for business-class airfare with either inadequate or no justification,” the audit said.

Schroder sought and received reimbursement for 182 hospitality expenditures totaling $36,675, according to the audit report.

“When we questioned the dean about his trips and the related reimbursement claims, he repeatedly responded to our questions by saying that he could not recall or did not remember pertinent pieces of information,” the report said.

For two years, the dean’s fraudulent travel and hospitality claims were reviewed and approved by his supervisors, the provost for academic affairs and vice provost.

However, both said in 2019 that they did not review the dean’s claims very carefully, as they trusted others to do so.

According to the university, Schroder is the only current or former CSUSM official under criminal investigation by local prosecutors. Schroder is also the first administrator in the university’s 32-year history who has been subjected to a restitution demand.

Schroder could not be reached for comment.