President Mohammad Qayoumi calls in auditors from the California State University Chancellor’s Office to review contracts and financial transactions in San Jose State University’s Justice Studies department. This decision comes a full year after the university completed its investigation, but just a week after an NBC Bay Area investigation. Chief Investigative Reporter Tony Kovaleski reports in a story that aired on June 5, 2014.
The president of San Jose State University has ordered a special financial audit into the school’s Justice Studies department following an NBC Bay Area investigation which exposed that university administrators concluded “no fiscal impropriety” occurred after they discovered the department head had used an unauthorized off-campus university checking account for personal expenses. That decision came a full year after the university completed its investigation—but just a week after the Investigative Unit report.
University president Mohammad Qayoumi called in auditors from California State University system’s Chancellor’s office for a review of all contracts and financial transactions in the department, led by former chair Mark Correia. This happened just days after NBC Bay Area questioned both Shawn Bibb— Vice President of Administration and Finance—about his conclusion that Correia’s actions did not constitute financial impropriety, and Charles Bullock—the dean responsible for the department—for choosing not to pursue a more thorough investigation.
“The review that was done by the campus was very narrow,” Qayoumi said when asked why it took him more than a year to order a deeper investigation. “I am concerned and that’s why I have asked the Chancellor’s office do an audit of that department.”
The university began its investigation after Correia wrote a letter stating, “I am embarrassed to say there were some inadvertent personal charges, which I have reimbursed.”
He made that admission after he was questioned about his use of the bank account and was forced to reimburse nearly $7,000 in personal items he charged from the student-funded account—expenses such as airfare, parking tickets and electronic equipment.
“What professor Correia did was inappropriate, whether it was intentional or inadvertent,” Qayoumi said. “What he did undermined the trust that the public, students and staff should have.”
But that’s where the university’s investigation stopped. Meanwhile, current and former members of the Justice Studies department questioned the integrity of the internal investigation and why administrators failed to examine tens of thousands of dollars in contracts they say were awarded to friends and associates of Correia.
“The investigation seems to be a bit of a cover up,” said Sang Kil, an associate professor in the Justice Studies department.
Now, questions center on why San Jose State and Qayoumi are suddenly calling for a more comprehensive audit more than a year after the investigation.
When asked to explain why he did nothing until the issue was the subject of an NBC Bay Area investigation Qayoumi said, “I was concerned about the narrow investigation on campus and that’s why I asked the Chancellor’s office to look at the issue closely and based on their findings we will take appropriate actions.”
When asked what grade Qayoumi would give the university for how it handled the investigation he responded, “As I stated earlier, basically I have asked the Chancellor’s office to look at this issue more closely and based on that will take appropriate actions.”
He never addressed the question or provided a grade the university’s performance in this investigation.
The University president provided this stock answer to many questions, including whether he supported the conclusion of the Finance department’s report which found no fiscal impropriety.
Qayoumi again said, “As I stated earlier I am concerned about the narrow review of what happened on campus and that’s why I have asked the Chancellor’s office to review the actions more thoroughly and based on what comes out from that report we will take appropriate actions.”
When asked when he became concerned about the university’s review Qayoumi repeated the same answer. The repetition continued more than 20 times during the 26-minute interview with NBC Bay Area.
Qayoumi did commit to an interview to discuss the results of the CSU Chancellor’s office review once the auditors finish their deeper dive into spending in the Justice Studies department. The audit will examine tens of thousands of dollars Correia awarded to close friends. Correia left SJSU for a dean’s position in Pennsylvania shortly after he admitted using student money for personal use.
Following the interview with President Qayoumi, the university announced that Dean Bullock is leaving his position as the Dean of the College of Applied Arts and Sciences effective July 1, 2014. The announcement did not say if Dean Bullock resigned or was forced out, but did say he will return to fulltime teaching at San Jose State.
Q&A with CSU Office of the Chancellor
The California State University Office of the Chancellor provided these answers to questions regarding the audit of San Jose State’s Justice Studies department. The president of San Jose State University has ordered a special financial audit into the school’s Justice Studies department following an NBC Bay Area investigation that exposed university administrators concluded “no fiscal impropriety” occurred after they discovered the department head had used an unauthorized off-campus university checking account for personal expenses.
What is the proper name for this review?
This is a financial review - a special financial audit of the Department of Justice Studies.
Why is the financial review happening now?
The financial review was requested by President Qayoumi. Financial reviews may be requested by a campus president. The requests are approved by the chancellor and chair of the audit committee for the Board of Trustees.
What is the scope of the financial review?
The financial review will include a review of the financial transactions of the Justice Studies Department, including all contracts.
When will the financial review be completed?
The financial review just got underway and it is too soon to determine when their work will be done. It might be helpful to you to better understand the financial review process …. When the financial review team finishes their work, the findings and recommendations will be prepared into a preliminary report to be shared with the campus. The campus ordinarily has 14 days to respond. The campus response will be incorporated into the report, and the full report will be posted to the Office of Audit and Advisory Services (OAAS) website. It is a public document. Based on the OAAS Charter, an email with the link to the posted full report will also be sent to: the Board of Trustees, the State Auditor, the Committee on Higher Education, Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’ Office. This procedure is followed for all audits conducted by the OAAS.
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