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San Jose State University to review IUP dean's spending

| Saturday, July 12, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

San Jose State University has asked for a second review of expenditures from a student-funded account managed by Dr. Mark Correia, now the dean of Indiana University of Pennsylvania's College of Health and Human Services.

San Jose State President Mo Qayoumi has asked the California State University chancellor's office to review Correia's expenditures from a special “off-campus” university checking account.

Correia, 46, former chairman of San Jose State's justice studies department, managed the account between 2012 and May 2013. IUP hired him in June 2013.

Qayoumi ordered the audit because of mounting criticism from San Jose students and some of Correia's former colleagues over a prior, in-house review of expenditures from the account.

That review determined “no fiscal impropriety” occurred.

The university reached that decision despite Correia's admitting he “inadvertently” made $6,868 in personal expenditures from the account, according to university reports.

Among the charges cited in the report were $263 Correia paid to himself, multiple payments for an iPad and iPad services, parking ticket payments, cellphone fees and more than $2,700 in personal air travel.

Correia repaid the money before he left for IUP, according to San Jose's internal controller's report on the spending.

Correia did not reply to repeated requests for interviews through his IUP office staff and emails.

“There was concern that the earlier review of the bank account may have been too limited,” Barry Shiller, associate vice president of marketing and communications, wrote in an email on Thursday.

“Accordingly, President Qayoumi asked the CSU Chancellor's office to conduct an independent audit of all financial transactions in our Justice Studies Department. That audit is ongoing,” he said.

IUP officials defended Correia's hiring and commended his work during the past year.

“We are very satisfied with our hiring processes, and we are very pleased with the work that Dr. Correia has done at IUP,” said Michelle Fryling, executive director of communications and media relations.

A internal controller's report at San Jose State documented the inappropriate spending but maintained it was inadvertent.

“Even though those expenses appear to be not following university procedures when incurred, they are now refunded and resolved,” Ninh Phambi, the university's director of internal control, wrote in a May 2013 report. “Therefore, I do not believe that they constitute reportable improprieties.”

Phambi reported that Correia told him that the account, which has been closed, contained as much as $32,505 generated through Justice Studies convocation event ticket sales; T-shirts, sweatshirt and hat sales; and enrollment fees associated with the department's summer youth CSI Camp.

Correia said the fund was designed to support department and student activities, Phambi wrote in the report.

In an interview on Wednesday, Sang Hea Kil, associate professor of justice studies, said university officials initially withheld the report. Since its release, she said, she has repeatedly complained about mismanagement and fraud in the department and accused university officials of concealing the problems.

“When (Justice Studies Dean Charles Bullock) sent a memo saying ‘no fiscal impropriety occurred' but would not give us a copy of the report or what it covered, I put it together that the audit was a sham and a cover-up to make the issue go away,” Kil said.

She noted that the initial university inquiry resulted from a whistleblower report.

Kil and other staff members continued to question the university's review after Correia left San Jose State. Kil pointed to a 2013 letter she wrote to the administration.

Kil said she “remained unconvinced that justice was served in Dr. Correia's case given the alleged extent of his fraudulent activities and that the audit of his activities after he left only seems to address issues with the off-campus bank account and does not address the litany of other alleged, unethical behaviors.”

Kil said she hopes Correia's contract awards will be part of the review. She maintains that department staff members have not been able to document any university benefits on two contracts approved under Correia during the period, one for $25,000 and the other for $20,000.

Members of the campus group “Student Coalition for SJSU Accountability” organized an online petition calling for a more thorough investigation. The petition has garnered more than 400 signatures.

IUP's College of Health and Human Services includes the departments of criminology; culinary arts; food and nutrition; health and physical education; hospitality management; human development and environmental studies; employment and labor relations; nursing and allied health professions; and safety sciences.

In addition to chairing the department of justice studies, Correia led social media and technology efforts within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, and was executive director of the Center for Justice Research, Policy and Training.

He had been an assistant professor in criminal justice at California State University, Los Angeles, and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or a t ppeirce@tribweb.com

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