Chico State Professor Alleges Fraud, Cheating, Deceit in New Book

Mar 5, 2014 7:06 PM

A Chico State accounting professor is alleging fraud, cheating, and overall corruption against the student-business group "Students in Free Enterprise."

The publicity for Curtis DeBerg began with a interview, followed by a clip on "Late Night with Seth Meyers."

The title of DeBerg's new memoir is "How High is Up?: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of a Sam M. Walton SIFE Fellow.

Dr. Curtis DeBerg sees things quite clearly now.

“It is an organization that indoctrinates students into the Walmart culture,” DeBerg said.

He's talking about SIFE, now known as Enactus, which describes themselves as a community of student, academic, and business leaders.

DeBerg was a Sam Walton fellow for twelve years. His run ended in 2005.

“I fell, and I fell like a thud,” DeBerg said.

“This organization was almost like a Christian-based Walmart worshipping organization.”

He said events and competitions, held in Kansas City, began with prayer, and were sponsored by the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurship.

“They gave SIFE $50,000 to conduct this special competition, but SIFE would only hand out about $12,000 in prize money,” DeBerg said. “They would pocket 38 grand for overhead.”

That's the fraud part of his allegations. He also said there was cheating at competitions.

“I was able to prove that four universities won prize money for a special competition they hadn't entered.”

This is all detailed in his new book, slated to be released this month.

DeBerg said his time with SIFE changed the arch of his career for the best and the worst.

Now, he's on a mission to expose the worst in the organization.

“Walmart values SIFE to get its best future employees [there].” “And they have a huge vested interest. And they don't publicize it very much because they know someday some guy is going to talk about what they really are at least from my perspective, and I guess that time is now,” DeBerg said.

DeBerg said he will be reading from his book at Lyon Books on May 5th at 7pm.

Here is the full written response from an Enactus spokesperson today:

An Enactus spokesperson commented: “Curt was a participant in SIFE up until the early 2000s, during which time he sought a larger, full-time role with the organization. We politely declined and Curt subsequently left to pursue his own endeavors focused on high school students through a program he modeled after ours. It is clear to us that Curt harbors some animosity towards us but there is no merit to the accusations he is making as part of the publicity efforts surrounding his forthcoming book.

“More than 12 years ago, in 2003, Curt made some complaints about some competition results. At Enactus, we take the integrity of our competitions extremely seriously and, as a result, our global board employed an independent investigator to undertake an inquiry. After a 3-month investigation, the inquiry found absolutely no impropriety and dismissed the notion that anything unethical took place. We used this incident to continue to improve and strengthen our internal processes to ensure the highest standards of fairness and accuracy.

“We’re also aware that in recent weeks and in an effort to grab headlines, Curt has made some outlandish accusations about the nature and purpose of our organization.

“Enactus is a completely secular and non-political organization that is dedicated to the simple notion that by harnessing the power of the entrepreneurial spirit that lives within each of us we can make the world a better place. We are extremely proud of the fact that we operate one of the largest and most diverse programs for university students in the world. This community is made up of:

    • 1,600 university members representing every major type and size of institution possible and including 48% of top global universities in the countries in which we operate as ranked by ARWU. In the U.S. our enrollment fairly closely mirrors the overall higher education market with about 50% public and 50% private member universities. Roughly 25% are faith based.
    • 66,500 student members that span a wide range of faiths, belief systems and cultural backgrounds.

“In addition to our university members, we’re also incredibly fortunate to receive support from more than 400 corporations, foundations and government agencies from all over the world. While the range of support from each partner varies, no one single donor provides more than 5% of our worldwide revenue. In addition to supporting Enactus teams through their community outreach projects and making it possible for them to positively impact more than two and half million people, many of these partner companies in the U.S. and around the world, as well as literally hundreds of other companies and organizations, compete to attract the attention and interests of these students as possible employees. No one single company hires more than a fraction of a percent of Enactus students.

“Last year Enactus students donated more than 7,000,000 million hours of volunteer service outside of their academic responsibilities to conceive and implement some truly extraordinary and life-changing projects. We are just sorry that Curt DeBerg’s misleading statements and false accusations are detracting from the fine work of these young entrepreneurs who deserve to be recognized based on the merits of their accomplishments.”


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