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.