Tetra Tech Inc. demoted its president after learning of discrepancies in his educational record, the company said in a federal filing.
In an Oct. 3 filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the top executive and board of the Pasadena, Calif.-based engineering giant announced the demotion of Sam W. Box to vice president of risk management.
Box, 62, who had been the firm’s president since 2004, will be responsible for contract and proposal risk management, project management training and coordination of international project risk management, the company says. It adds that Box's “40 years of industry experience in managing large fixed-price programs make him especially qualified for this position.”
A spokesman says the decision to demote Box was also made by the Tetra Tech board’s governance committee.
According to the SEC filing, the step was taken after questions were raised about Box's “academic credentials” by a so-called corporate fraud watchdog group in San Diego called Fraud Discovery Institute. The Tetra Tech spokesman says the group, founded by Barry Minkow, a former con man turned self-proclaimed fraud fighter, challenged company information that Box had earned a civil engineering undergraduate degree at the University of California. In its filing, Tetra Tech says his credentials were “misreported.”
Company Chairman and CEO Dan L. Batrack assumed the additional role of president, says the filing. Tetra Tech ranks eighth on ENR's list of The Top 500 Design Firms, with more than $1.6 billion in total 2007 revenue. It also ranks sixth on ENR's current list of the Top 200 Environmental Firms.
Box could not be reached for comment, but sources close to him believe he did attend the university program, although the sources acknowledge that the status of his degree may not have been clarified in company documents. Box went on to become a top environmental management executive at Morrison-Knudsen Corp. (now a part of URS Corp), and chairman and CEO of Foster Wheeler Environmental Corp. (FWEC), a unit of energy giant Foster Wheeler Ltd. He joined Tetra Tech in 2003 when it acquired FWEC.
“Sam is very technically astute and competent,” says one colleague. “He holds his own, and he could probably teach engineering.”
Adds one former associate: “It’s a very unfortunate move.”