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The Cal U deal: Stained credibility

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It doesn't require a degree in fine arts or even business to see that the stained-glass window “deal” at California University of Pennsylvania was a transparency mess from the get-go.

With no more than a handshake, former university professor Leslie Parkinson said she was commissioned by ex-university President Angelo Armenti Jr. to create eight stained-glass windows. For $160,000. But the deal fell through after Mr. Armenti was fired last year.

A university spokeswoman said Armenti, who filed a lawsuit against the State System of Higher Education, “acted wholly without authority and without funding.” But Armenti said Cal U's mission statement and state law governing Pennsylvania's state-run universities gave him the authority.

Deal or no deal, the university has offered Ms. Parkinson $17,000 for each of four finished windows.

If all of this sounds extraordinarily loosey-goosey, go to the head of the class.

Armenti said he planned to pay Parkinson with private money, presumably through the Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania. That would be the same foundation that received student housing fees, according to a state audit. And that would be the same audit that revealed exorbitant spending, most notably on a $59 million convocation center.

The stained-glass window scandal only raises additional concerns over how business is transacted in all of Pennsylvania's halls of higher education.

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