Thursday, May 12, 2011

What did Mortenson do with Springfield's money?

Greg Mortenson appeared in Springfield on March 3, visiting students at Laketown Elementary School, being feted at a $125 a plate dinner at UIS’s PAC restaurant, and then speaking about his charities to a full house at Sangamon Auditorium. He was well-received at each venue. Mortenson was paid $33,000 plus travel expenses, including a chauffeur-driven limousine, to appear in Springfield.

Then came the “60 Minutes” exposé on April 17. The “60 Minutes” team investigated Mortenson and his charities, Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace, for months, spending a considerable amount of time in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We’re watching the situation to see what develops,” Derek Schnapp, head of the public relations office at UIS, said last week. Schnapp confirmed that it is not unusual for a speaker to request a limousine to campus events. UIS booked Mortenson through the Penguin Speakers Bureau in New York City, and his fee was paid to them, Schnapp said. The idea to book Mortenson was a collaborative effort coming out of the campus Student Affairs office, Schnapp added.

The story was published in an May 12, 2011, edition of the Illinois Times.

Read the story online