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SDSU: to Tbilisi with love

The university expands into the Soviet republic of Georgia

The manner in which SDSU went about planning a satellite school in the former Soviet republic of Georgia was rebuked two years ago.
The manner in which SDSU went about planning a satellite school in the former Soviet republic of Georgia was rebuked two years ago.

Complaints from California state university auditors about a lack of financial transparency haven’t stopped San Diego State University from moving ahead on a downtown campus in Tbilisi, capital of the beleaguered former Soviet republic of Georgia.

“The new building in central Tbilisi will be equipped with modern facilities, with electrical and civil engineering labs, classrooms, teaching and common areas,” reports the Trend News Agency. “The construction of the academic building started in August 2017 and is expected to be fully finished and equipped by the end of 2018.” Says the account, “For now SDSU cooperates with three Georgian universities: Tbilisi State University, Ilia State University and Georgia’s Technical University.”

The stealthy way then–SDSU president Elliot Hirshman handled the school’s expansion into Georgia drew a rebuke in a November 17, 2016, report by Larry Mandel, California State University System’s vice chancellor and chief audit officer. “The campus was not in compliance with system-wide requirements regarding administration and approval of international agreements,” the audit said. “Although the campus process required the president’s approval on international agreements, the president had delegated comprehensive signature authority for a specific program in the country of Georgia to the vice president of administration and finance.”

Added the report, “The campus made a conscious decision to retain approval authority for all international agreements, rather than forwarding these agreements to the [chancellor’s office] for review and approval as required by such policies.”

Last September, a planeload of San Diego officials flew to Tbilisi to mark the start of a new academic year for 200 or so students. “San Diego State University Provost Chukuka Enwemeka and a delegation of SDSU deans were special guests of the event,” per Georgia Today. Insiders say the opening of the school’s new building, expected to happen this coming summer in the midst of SDSU’s hard-fought ballot bid to take control of what used to be known as Qualcomm Stadium for massive expansion here, is likely to get little attention from the school’s public relations department.

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The manner in which SDSU went about planning a satellite school in the former Soviet republic of Georgia was rebuked two years ago.
The manner in which SDSU went about planning a satellite school in the former Soviet republic of Georgia was rebuked two years ago.

Complaints from California state university auditors about a lack of financial transparency haven’t stopped San Diego State University from moving ahead on a downtown campus in Tbilisi, capital of the beleaguered former Soviet republic of Georgia.

“The new building in central Tbilisi will be equipped with modern facilities, with electrical and civil engineering labs, classrooms, teaching and common areas,” reports the Trend News Agency. “The construction of the academic building started in August 2017 and is expected to be fully finished and equipped by the end of 2018.” Says the account, “For now SDSU cooperates with three Georgian universities: Tbilisi State University, Ilia State University and Georgia’s Technical University.”

The stealthy way then–SDSU president Elliot Hirshman handled the school’s expansion into Georgia drew a rebuke in a November 17, 2016, report by Larry Mandel, California State University System’s vice chancellor and chief audit officer. “The campus was not in compliance with system-wide requirements regarding administration and approval of international agreements,” the audit said. “Although the campus process required the president’s approval on international agreements, the president had delegated comprehensive signature authority for a specific program in the country of Georgia to the vice president of administration and finance.”

Added the report, “The campus made a conscious decision to retain approval authority for all international agreements, rather than forwarding these agreements to the [chancellor’s office] for review and approval as required by such policies.”

Last September, a planeload of San Diego officials flew to Tbilisi to mark the start of a new academic year for 200 or so students. “San Diego State University Provost Chukuka Enwemeka and a delegation of SDSU deans were special guests of the event,” per Georgia Today. Insiders say the opening of the school’s new building, expected to happen this coming summer in the midst of SDSU’s hard-fought ballot bid to take control of what used to be known as Qualcomm Stadium for massive expansion here, is likely to get little attention from the school’s public relations department.

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Comments
4

How can SDSU think California's travel ban on public employees to U.S. states discriminating against LGBT people doesn't extend to nations torturing them?

If the Board of Trustees can't figure how to fix this, then the Legislature must.

Feb. 7, 2018

A careful reading of the comments, as quoted, makes me conclude that Hirshman undertook this on his own. Then he refused to comply with internal CSU procedures for review and approval. If the comments from the CSU vice- chancellor, Larry Mandel, are true, the CSU had ample grounds to fire Hirshman for cause, more than a year ago. It didn't do that, and allowed him to find another academic perch back East.

This is the absolute first mention I've seen or heard about the connection to Central Asia. How about the rest of you? The funds expended were all or partly state or student funds, and had no controls in place. How about that Hirsh got approval first from either the chancellor, or better yet the board of trustees? Doesn't look as if either was the case.

Yes, Rich Gibson, SDSU needs a satellite campus in Chula Vista for more than one in Central Asia, in the former Soviet Union. That's what makes all this more outrageous.

Feb. 7, 2018

Well said, Visduh.

Feb. 8, 2018

To begin with, Georgia is in the Caucuses, not Central Asia.

"If the comments from the CSU vice-chancellor, Larry Mandel, are true, the CSU had ample grounds to fire Hirshman for cause, more than a year ago. It didn't do that, and allowed him to find another academic perch back East."

The CSU system had the power to fire Hirshman, yes - IF HE WAS GOING OFF ON HIS OWN. I don't think he was; it needs to be looked into whether or not he decided to set up this Tiflis campus on his own, or if the Back Room Boys put him up to it. Elliot Hirshman was a ghost on SDSU campus even before David Horowitz showed up to create that car-blocking riot. (By the way, universities like Temple in Philadelphia have outlets in Japan, so I don't see what the big stink is.) Also, if CSU and SDSU fired him, they couldn't keep him from getting that job Back East - that hire was on the Stevenson College hiring committee and their Board of Governors. So yes, I think Elliot Hirshman was a nebbish and manipulated, or if I'm wrong, then everybody in charge of the CSU system should be taken out behind the sheds and shot.

When is Matt Potter going to start really complaining about the Confucius Institute run both in the SDSU Arts and Letters building basement and the back end of the Professional Studies and Fine Arts building across the way, because those people are paid for by the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China. If The Potter wants to rant about "fuerriners" with their "fuerrin ideers" - that whole setup deserves comment.

Feb. 15, 2018

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