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Education

State Audit Says Fresno State Professor Has "Conflict Of Interest"

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Fresno State
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Tim Stearns is the director of Fresno State's Lyles Center

A popular Fresno State professor is the subject of a blistering audit from the California State University, including conflict of interest allegations. 

Professor Tim Stearns teaches students at the Lyles Center For Innovation and Entrepreneurship how to start their own businesses. But it’s Stearns own business interests that ran afoul of the CSU Chancellor’s Office. The audit accuses Stearns of hiring a business partner to work as a consultant for the center, and using university resources to benefit his own company.

Many of the allegations center around Stearns’ ownership stake in a company called Kids Invent, which develops a curriculum for elementary school students. The Lyles Center licenses the material to local districts, but Stearns’ private business markets the products elsewhere. 

In some cases auditors found evidence that Lyles Center staff worked on those projects, and uncertainty about just what the university owns and what Stearns owns.  

The report also accuses Stearns of operating a private PayPal account to handle business transactions for the center, and at least one questionable reimbursement payment to Stearns for $3,000. In a written statement, the University says it agrees with the allegations and is working to resolve the problems.