Report Says San Jose State’s Tower Foundation Lied on Federal Tax Returns

San Jose State University’s Tower Foundation calls itself an “auxiliary organization dedicated solely to philanthropy,” according to its website. A report by Cal Watchdog published Thursday suggests the foundation broke federal law by not reporting generous payments to university officials.

The website reports that the Tower Foundation lied on federal tax returns for three consecutive years—2007 through 2009—regarding compensation for “more than a half dozen high-ranking university personnel, including the college’s president, provost, athletic director and several vice-presidents.” College tuition costs continue to increase in the state’s two public school systems, yet earlier this week two CSU presidents were given raises.

Former SJSU President Jon Whitmore received salary and benefits of $328,209, which was approved by the Cal State Board of Trustees, according to the Cal Watchdog report. But in federal tax returns, nothing was mentioned of a $25,000 annual supplement, nor free housing expenses, moving costs and a vehicle allowance.

Other university officials named in the Cal Watchdog report for receiving compensation excluded from the foundation’s tax returns include: Fred Najjar, SJSU vice president of advancement; Rose Lee, SJSU vice president; Thomas Bowen, athletic director; Don Kassing, former SJSU president; Jay Pinson, SJSU emeritus dean of engineering; Dr. Carmen Sigler, SJSU provost and vice president of academic affairs; and Nancy Bussani, Tower Foundation CEO.

Read the full Cal Watchdog Report.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

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