Friday, March 9

Professor challenges donor's "naming rights"

Here's a juicy little story from Cal State Fullerton where a donor who pledged $4.5 million is being challenged by a professor who does not want the donor's name on a new $87.5 million building.

The Orange County Register reported that Steven G. Mihaylo, a 1969 graduate of Cal State Fullerton, signed a guilty plea admitting his company, Inter-Tel Inc., committed federal mail fraud and antitrust violations.

Mihaylo was not personally accused of wrongdoing, but his company paid $8.7 million in fines. The company's guilty plea came seven months after Mihaylo made his pledge to put his name on the building – and five months before he received an honorary doctorate from the school.

Mihaylo blamed his company's troubles on rogue employees. Earl Nelson, who headed Inter-Tel's branch in Emeryville, faces federal trial in April on charges of conspiracy, bid rigging and mail fraud in contracts with school districts in San Francisco, West Fresno and Highland Park, Mich.

The university has no plans to remove Mihaylo's name. Hamid Tavakolian, the professor whose students uncovered the Inter-Tel settlement, met Tuesday with Cal State Fullerton President Milton Gordon to discuss the controversy.

Tavakolian has threatened legal action against administrators, whom he accuses of using the university's e-mail to impugn his motives.

No comments: