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IU says Stonegate CEO did not earn Kelley degree

October 14, 2014

The CEO of Indianapolis-based Stonegate Mortgage Corp., one of the nation’s fastest-growing publicly traded mortgage companies, did not earn a degree from Indiana University as his company profile claims.

James J. Cutillo’s executive biography on the Stonegate website says he “holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.” His LinkedIn profile page notes he attended the school from 1987 to 1991.

Several media outlets and industry publications that have featured Cutillo or his company described him as an IU grad.

An IU spokesman who researched the matter at IBJ’s request said Cutillo does not hold an IU degree. The school said he attended IU through the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis from the fall of 1989 to the spring of 1992 but was never conferred a degree.

“There’s a lot of responsibility involved in saying whether someone did or did not get a degree from IU, and we’ve been very thorough,” IU spokesman George Vlahakis said. “And Mr. Cutillo did not meet all requirements necessary to receive a degree.”

The discrepancy arose as IBJ checked facts for a profile story on Cutillo, 46, that will appear in this weekend's newspaper. After Stonegate officials declined to provide biographical details typically found on a resume–including degree information—IBJ reached out to the school.

IU officials said they triple-checked records and confirmed Cutillo pursued a bachelor’s degree in finance, but he never finished.

In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Cutillo acknowledged that he did not earn the degree. He apologized for the confusion and took the blame for not fact-checking and correcting the various public references to a degree.

"I'm very disappointed in myself. I'm professionally embarrassed," he said. "I never wanted to represent something that wasn't factual."

Cutillo noted that filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, prepared in advance of the firm's public offering last year and during Stonegate's time as a public company, do not describe him as an IU graduate. The filings include degree information for several other board members and executives.

Regarding the timeline discrepancy between his LinkedIn page and IU's record, Cutillo said he enlisted in the Army just after high school in 1987. He enrolled at Austin Peay State University that year as part of an Army degree-pursuit program. He said he transferred to IU in 1989 and was commissioned as an Army officer in 1991.

He said the school may have still had him on the books in 1992. He said he was a few classes short of graduating and chose the military in December 1991.

"I prioritized my commitment to the Army and serving my country versus getting my college degree," he said.

Cutillo said the bio page that describes him as an IU graduate was outdated and not accessible via the company's homepage, though it remains a top search engine result. He also noted that his LinkedIn page does not specify that he holds an IU degree.

While Cutillo’s company bio says he graduated from IU, that assertion does not appear to have made its way into public filings. The company's proxy statement filed in April, for instance, lists the degree attainment for all eight of the senior executives except for Cutillo. It makes no mention of his schooling.

Cutillo started Stonegate in 2005 with his wife, Barb Cutillo.

The company is one of the fastest-growing non-bank mortgage companies in the country, increasing its work force to about 1,300 employees from about 650 this time last year. In 2013, it posted net income of $22.6 million on revenue of $157.9 million.

Cutillo took the company public last year on the New York Stock Exchange with a $114 million initial public offering.

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