- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - State auditors are investigating Chattanooga State Community College President Jim Catanzaro after he hired a woman he met on vacation in Barbados to a six-figure job at the school.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (https://bit.ly/1rbtV2i) Chief Innovations Officer Lisa Haynes did not have a college degree as required in her job description and her visa agreement. She originally was hired in August 2013 as Catanzaro’s senior executive assistant, at a salary of $90,000. Then over the summer she was promoted, and her salary increased to $108,000.

As chief innovations officer, Haynes oversees a staff of 12 and an annual budget of $1.1 million.

The Tennessee Board of Regents has declined to comment on the nature of the audit, but a document obtained by the newspaper shows that Haynes’ hiring is a central part of the investigation.

The document shows auditors are evaluating the “climate, ethics and morale” of the college. Questions for college staff include whether they have knowledge of unethical acts by upper management or situations that were improperly handled.

Catanzaro told the newspaper on Tuesday that the audit was a routine, yearly occurrence.

“One year they may be more extensive than another year,” he said. “And this year, obviously because of the complaints that are being made, they are being thorough.”

He also said that the hiring was proper, and that he wasn’t aware of the degree issue until last month. He previously said that Haynes’ degree wasn’t all that important because her position isn’t academic.

Chattanooga State never acquired an official transcript, and the unofficial transcripts Haynes submitted don’t show that a degree was ever conferred. Haynes was notified last month that she had never received her bachelor’s degree in communications studies from Duquesne University.

The school first agreed to issue Haynes a different marketing degree this coming December. Then it said it would offer Haynes her degree effective Sept. 22. A day later - after Duquesne officials talked to Catanzaro - they agreed to retroactively offer Haynes her original degree in communication studies, dated back to 2005.


Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, https://www.timesfreepress.com

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