Lawsuit: Cal State Fullerton Dean Withheld Necessary Classes from Grad Students to "Retaliate"

Titans at this summer's Undie Run—at least the school doesn't get THAT wrong...
Titans at this summer's Undie Run—at least the school doesn't get THAT wrong...
Photo by Kevin Warn

A lawsuit filed in May by Cal State Fullerton graduate John Paul Coe alleges "unfair, deceptive and unlawful business practices" over its Master of Science in Electrical Engineer degree, emphasis in systems engineering. Coe claims CSUF requires five courses for the systems engineering specialty, but that two haven't been offered since 2011, which meant he finished the MS program sans the designation, costing him its prestige and making it that much more difficult to finish his degree.

And why would Cal State Fullerton not offer those courses? The lawsuit puts the blame all on College of Engineering and Computer Science Raman Unnikrishnan, which Coe's attorneys claim "has a deliberate wrongful intent to harm, vex, and annoy" Coe, because he was faculty-advised by Dr. Hassan H. Hashemi. And why would the dean have a problem with a professor who's been on campus for 30 years and the only CSUF prof with a Ph.D. in systems engineering? According to the lawsuit, Unnikrishnan once told Hashemi that he wanted clear out the department of some "fucking Jews," making Hashemi "openly and continuously opposed to the upper administration."

Yeah, that'll do that to you.

The lawsuit claims Hashemi, in a 2013 letter to CSUF top brass, said that the cancellation of the required courses created "a lot of complications for" for students like Coe. "It is unconscionable that the College Administrators have no regard for the interest of these graduate students," Hashemi wrote, as quoted by Coe's lawsuit. "Their failure to provide any rationality for the cancelation of these courses leaves no doubt in my mind that these courses have been cancelled to retaliate against me since I have been exposing the anti-Semitism, ethnocentrism, racism and cronyism...in our College."

The lawsuit also claims that Unnikrishnan forced the resignation of Cal State Fullerton electrical engineering department's longtime department chair, Dr. Mostafa Shiva, "because he was unable to work with the Dean, who wanted Dr. Shiva to lower the department standards for graduation, push unqualified students to graduate, turn the institution into a degree mill, generate income, and to thereby, better his name and reputation as Dean of the College and ensure job security." (Later on, a slightly modified version of this passage described the claims as Unnikrishnan's "corrupt purpose").

This one's for the ladies...
This one's for the ladies...
Photo by Kevin Warn

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Wait, is Coe suing, or is Hashemi?

The lawsuit is dinging the dean and Cal State Fullerton on eight counts ranging from breach of contract to unjust enrichment and negligent misrepresentation, and asking for a judgement that "defendants breached the contract with" Coe, that their advertising of the program and offer of admission is "unlawful," a permanent injunction correcting the above, damages, attorneys' fee, pre- and post-judgement interest. Given Cal State Fullerton is a school notorious for throwing its students under the bus, let's see what any more discoveries may come...


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