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Hayden Decries 'Ghost' Instructors at San Diego State : Education: The senator says some professors are not teaching full loads and that administrators have been falsifying documents to cover up. College spokesman says a state audit will find that all regulations were met.

March 22, 1994|TONY PERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — State Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) charged Monday that for years administrators at San Diego State University have falsified documents to cover up for professors who are not teaching full loads, thus cheating students and taxpayers.

"This damn thing seems to have been going on for 20 years," Hayden said. "This is major fraud."

Hayden, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, demanded that the state's legislative analyst investigate San Diego State and other California State University campuses to determine the extent of the "ghosts in the classroom."

He said he wants the analyst to determine how much of the $65 million a year in state subsidies for faculty salaries at San Diego State may have gone to professors who were not teaching as many classes as their contracts required.

Figures released by Hayden indicated that San Diego State professors were teaching 25% fewer classes than their colleagues at other campuses, while student tuition was increasing systemwide and San Diego State class size was the highest of any Cal State campus.

"San Diego State has increasingly expanded class size, diluting the potential learning experience of students . . . while reducing teaching loads for senior faculty," Hayden said.

Many San Diego State students, he added, have had to take five or six years to graduate because they could not get the required classes in four years. Enrollment at San Diego State has dropped nearly 20% in four years, with some students transferring to other campuses where they were assured of being able to graduate in four years.

Hayden, a frequent critic of California higher education officials, said he believes the chancellor of the 20-campus Cal State system must have been aware that San Diego State was juggling the figures.

Chancellor Barry Munitz, through a spokeswoman, said he would wait until an audit is completed before responding.

San Diego State spokesman Rick Moore denied Hayden's assertions about fraud and said that administrators are confident that the audit will show that the campus has met all regulations about teaching loads. "We have met our obligations to teaching students and sometimes exceeded them," he said.

Hayden's information was provided, in part, by Rajesh Kanwar, an assistant professor of business at San Diego State who was denied tenure, ending his teaching career there. Kanwar said he was a beneficiary of the ghost-teaching system that he now wants stopped.

The comments by Hayden, a former chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, came as the Senate moved toward a confirmation vote on three Cal State trustees opposed by Hayden. The vote had been set for this week but has been delayed until next week.

In a news conference and then a telephone interview, Hayden said the alleged teaching load scam was going on while the three trustees were on the board and that they failed to stop it. "There obviously has been a major failure in oversight," he said.

Hayden alleged that San Diego State has a pattern of violating a state law requiring professors to teach at least 12 units of classes per semester, which is usually three classes. About 43% of professors at San Diego State teach only two courses a semester, Hayden said.

According to Kanwar and Hayden, professors were given more credit than warranted for supervising independent study programs, administrators liberally waived teaching requirements by a process known as "assigned time," and professors were given credit for courses taught by graduate students or, in some cases, not taught at all.

The documents cited by Hayden as being fraudulent were teaching load summaries forwarded to the system's central administration and subject to audit by the state Department of Finance to make sure the state is getting its money's worth.

Hayden said that if San Diego State professors were teaching as many courses as professors at other campuses, another 674 classes could be added.

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