Just the facts, ma’am

June 10, 2008


A Cal Poly official took to the airways Monday to dispute portions of an UncoveredSLO.com article posted last week.

Amy Hewes, director of publications and communications for the College of Engineering, argued on Dave Congalton’s 920KVEC Hometown Radio show that she disagreed with parts of the article, “Cal Poly’s College of Engineering budget bleeds.”

Hewes called Congalton’s show to disagree with the article. UncoveredSLO.com Co-Editor Karen Velie, a guest on the show, cited for Hewes documents used in the article’s research. Hewes then admitted that the university’s College of Engineering was, indeed, in the red. She added that all of the colleges at Cal Poly are in the red.

However, numerous university sources insist both the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science and Math are operating in the black.

Hewes called a second time Monday to the Congalton show, claiming off-air that she had been speaking as a private citizen, and not as a spokesperson for the university.

Asked which version of the College of Engineering’s fiscal health is true, Cal Poly spokesperson Stacia Momburg said earlier today, “I would go with the provost.” That’s the version that everything is good. Momberg said she would check her information regarding the financial status of both the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Engineering. When she responded, she said, “The budget is balanced and there is no shortfall in the College of Engineering and there is no deficit in the College of Liberal Arts.”

The number of employees raising funds for the college was another point of contention.

Hewes claimed that the number of college advancement staff members has not changed under Engineering College Dean Mohammad Noori’s guidance. From one perspective, her claim may have merit; the college appears to have placed fund raising staff in other departments.

So, to clarify, the number of fund raising staff has more than doubled in number, while the fruits of their efforts have shrunk. The numbers and findings in UncoveredSLO.com’s report originate with, and are verified by, numerous university sources.

In 2005, when Engineering College Dean Mohammad Noori first started at Cal Poly, Michelle Jenkins and Jennifer Endes were the two employees responsible for the College of Engineering’s fund raising effort. Both were earning approximately $70,000 per year.

Noori fired Endes in March 2006 and Jenkins continued to run the department alone for about six months.

Around September 2006, Noori appointed a friend from Iran, Zahed Sheikh, with a starting salary of around $120,000 and a fund raising quota of $300,000. After failing to meet his quota, Sheikh was given a full time position with a more than $100,000 salary.

A fall 2006 newsletter lists Sheikh under the category of “development.”

An October 2006 memo from Noori announced Joe Donahoo would fill the assistant dean/director of advancement position. He is reported to have a salary of over $100,000.

Noori then promoted Donna Aiken from assistant to the dean, to director of donor relations, at a salary of more than $70,000. The job change came with a 66 percent salary increase.

Debbie Houseman spent a few days in development in March 2007, before exiting on stress leave.

In April 2007, after five years as director of corporate relations, Jenkins left with a settlement agreement.

Then in August 2007, Cindy Holton was brought in as a full time assistant to support the fund raising effort.

Hewes also claimed six chairs had not stepped down during Noori’s three-year reign. The following six chairs ended their terms during Noori’s tenure at Cal Poly:

Dr. Robert Crockett resigned during year two of a three-year term as chair of bio-medical engineering.

Dr. Gregg Fiegel resigned in year two of his first three-year term as chair of civil and environmental engineering.

Dr. Thomas Mackin completed a three-year term as mechanical engineering chair and chose not to run again.

Professor Mike Cirovic stepped down as the chair of electrical engineering.

Dr. Linda Vanasupa resigned in year two of her second term as materials engineering chair and went on to become director of Global EdGe.

Dr. Mei-Ling Liu completed a one year term as computer science chair. She did not compete for the three-year term in the open search.

“When Amy Hewes came on the show, a group of us were listening in at the CFA year-end picnic,” said an engineering professor who asked to remain anonymous. “When she said this is academia and there is no retribution here, everyone scoffed and guffawed. What does she know? She hasn’t been through the process. So, how can she comment?”

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Member Opinions:

By: Anonymous on 6/24/08

By: Anonymous on 6/24/08

By: Anonymous on 6/18/08

FYI – All State employee salary information is public information. Go to http://www.sacbee.com/1098/story/738462.html and you can see exact salaries for all Cal Poly staff and faculty.

I'm not aware of the ins and out of this particular issue, but annually Cal Poly staff and faculty receives a "whistleblower" email. Perhaps it's time someone blew said whistle.

By: Anonymous on 6/16/08

When will you folks in SLO realize that Cow-Poly is NOT your friend?

You'd think folks would have figured it out by now.

Wake up and put your foot down.

By: Anonymous on 6/14/08

The entire fiasco at Clown_Poly has been framed perfectly in lucid perspective by Roger Freberg. Thank You Roger. See the latest at this URL:


By: Anonymous on 6/13/08

Although I never agreed with his type of political spin I appreciated his hard work and he did some great interviews on Meet The Press.

We should all pray for his wife and son.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

I hear that Amy Hewes bought a house with Clayton Hall. Is that true?

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

Turn Cal Poly over to private industry.

Heads will roll, students will be better served and the money will be there as a private company would never put up with the sloppy bookeeping and layers of idiots.

It's time we gave it a try.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

Ah, if only were the Eng dean in trouble. The "advancement" contingent across the university has grown quite a bit in six or seven years- look at all the colleges and see the dean's budgets and staff. The real reason is Sacramento and Long Beach won't pony up what it really costs to run a first class school or college, so each university and college has to get it's own house in order- bake sales, advancements, whatever it takes. Noori is just a lot more clumsy than his predecessor, who played alumni like a musical instrument.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

He gave his buddy from Iran an undefined position worth $100K? He should be fired for his nepotism!

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

Check out the past article in the LATimes on Saudi/Cal Poly deal and email and call the reporter. They are curious.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

KSBY is aware of the controversy. They monitor this site on a regular basis. They got the FEMA Fraud story from this site. The fact is that they must have something going on with Cal-Poly if they helped Noori with damage control.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08


By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

Warren Baker needs to poke his head out of his office and deal with this publicly. To me, his silence only implies approval of Noori and Durgin. Has anyone notified Chancellor Reed yet? His phone # is (562) 951-4000.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

Warren Baker needs to come out of his office and deal with this publicly already! His silence is only being construed as approval for these shenanigans.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

The local media has been in bed with Cal Poly forever. Neither the Tribune nor KSBY will pick up on this story. No way. That's why we need this web site.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

I could not agree more. What amazes me most is that KSBY is somehow unaware of the controversy.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

To say that good job-placements for CP-Engr grads in jobs is the result of Noori being Dean, would be like saying that it is the actions of Bush that is keeping America safe. The fact is that the College of Engineering is continuing to survive in spite of poor leadership by the Dean. It is the dedication of faculty, staff and students who deserve, who deservel ALL the credit for the quality of our graduates not the actions of an ineffective Dean who scores an F grade on most measures of performance in his 3 year term to date.

By: Anonymous on 6/12/08

Typical…that local media would avoid the real issues.

Typical…that Noori would claim others' accomplishments as his own.

The question is not: what are the students doing? The question is: what is Noori doing?

I'm certain the students and faculty are doing the very best they can in a difficult situation.

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

According to KSBY at 6, all is good in the engineering wing, Dean Noori had prime time on graduate placing in the state.

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

Make sure your college advisory board members, donors and trustees of CP are made aware of these charges, the websites and all the bad publicity the college is getting because of this and the Saudi deal.

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

NOBODY who listened to that segment could have believed anything Hewes spewed.

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

It appears the powers at Cal Poly care more about what the public thinks than their own faculty and staff who are blatantly aware of the deceptions. While the public may have believed Amy Hewes, it was quite a different story with faculty.

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

Maybe it's time for the students to join the faculty and take their college back. Students have, collectively, a bigger voice than they're often given credit for – it's time to use that voice, people. The faculty needs your help.

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

Under Noori, assistant/associate deans have gone from 2 to 5!

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

Congrats Amy Hewes: Dean Noori recognizes and appreciates your blind support of the admin and has created a new position in the college of engineering specifically for you: Dean of (_________). Just fill in the blank!

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

Who is telling the truth, the spin doctor for Noori or the Provost? How could the two camps fail to get their stories strait?

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

I'm embarrassed for Amy Hewes. The "misstatements" she made on the Congalton show have caught up with her.

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

Obviously, running a large engineering college like Cap Poly is a challeging endeavor. After hearing of all that transpired at NC State, it seems a main question is "How could an individual with the kinds of problems reported by NC State be hired by Cal Poly as DEAN? Who would give positive recommendations for an individual like this and put at risk their own, as well as their institution's, good name?"

Something doesn't seem right here???

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

I am here to tell you I am not a liar and I have the paperwork to PROVE I was fired and did not leave on my own accord! I know CENG is working hard at CYA but the truth does come out and you do indeed reap what you sow.

By: Anonymous on 6/11/08

Sounds like these Cal Poly administrators could go to work for the Clinton's during the summer to supplement their "low" pay. They would fit right in with the ultimate liars.

By: Anonymous on 6/10/08

Please note you bloggers,

We Cal Poly administrators DO NOT LIE or CHEAT. We are honest & prudent in all that we do; especially our dear friend Mohammad Noori, the benign Dean of Engineering. We may on rare occasions let slip and state a white lie when we have to, never with malice. So if you find a lie, remember we just did not tell you the whole truth. OK? we do not lie. PERIOD.

By: Anonymous on 6/10/08

It's hard to compare budgetary shortfalls in business vs. a public entity like Cal Poly. In business you can check to see how much money is hittnig the bottom line through 'operations' and how much the bottom line is being pumped up by selling off of assets.

In a public institution, many budget shortfalls can be covered by transferring funds from one account to another. In this way, a budget that had been exceeded can be 'covered' by funds from another place.

The question always comes up… where did those funds come from? Did they come from a fund that shouldn't be used to cover operating shortfalls?

To see how Cal Poly really handles their money they would have to open their books… or someone from the inside can 'leak it' (hint hint).

It will be fun to watch ni the weeks ahead.

Roger Freberg

PS. I hear that the administration already has their 'talking points' for meeting the press on the Saudi Deal.

By: Anonymous on 6/10/08

Is it possible for the students to band together and get in touch with the donors listed in the college newsletter? Maybe we could ask for help or receive guidance. If they give money, they must care about what happens here.

By: Anonymous on 6/10/08

Either Durgin or Noori is lying. Whom is it?

By: Anonymous on 6/10/08

U go students! Your voice can and will be heard, hopefully.

By: Anonymous on 6/10/08

You must be kidding, right? Surely a smart guy like Dean Noori would not spend more than he has in the bank. If I did that my parents would start yelling!! We as students are being screwed. We passed the additional fees ($200 + $45 every quarter) on the firm promise from President Baker that it would be used for "enhancement" of educational needs beyond what the state provides". Now we hear that Dean Noori is on a reckless and lavish spending for his favored Dean's Office buddies using our additional campus and college fees. This is OUTRAGEOUS. We as students can rescind the student fees. Watch it!

By: Anonymous on 6/10/08

THANK YOU Karen for speaking up in spite of the shameful legal threats from "the suits at CP-SLO" who seem to be hell bent on "we are going to get anyone who speaks up". Have they forgotten the 1st amendment of our constitution?

Believe me, the "Pasha Noori" really does not have any clothes. While the sycophants keep kissing a**, we the junior faculty who are so vulnerable are grateful to the bold senior faculty who are speaking up for all of us, After three years at the helm Dean Dean Noori gets a solid "F" grade. We are all praying that he does not screw up reading his script at commencement next sunday as he did to in June 2007 at Spanos Stadium. How can anybody screw up reading scripted lines !! We are all embarrassed and ashamed and feel bad for our students. We are vulnerable and so we are so thankful to brave editors like you and Dan for taking on the Cal Poly administration. THANK YOU.

By: Anonymous on 6/10/08

You would think thatwith the state in deep financial troubles, they would look at how our monies are being wasted. I expect they'll solve their fiscal crisis on the backs of the working class, as usual.