And now... The Truth About The CEU

Discussion in 'The Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies' started by Gus Sainz, Mar 22, 2002.

  1. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    For some time now, I have been in possession (though not at liberty to reveal publicly) of two copies of official documents from the Department of Education of the State of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, signed by the Director of Accreditation, Certification, and Academic Control. Both are in response to requests Alan Contreras of the State of Oregon, Office of Degree Authorization made in February of last year for more information concerning The Centro de Estudios Universitarios.

    The first document, dated August 8, 2001, states that the CEU is authorized to grant the equivalent of Bachelors degrees and a single Masters degree in Administration (with six different areas of specialization). It also states quite explicitly that the CEU is NOT authorized to grant doctoral degrees nor has it presented any documentation requesting to do so.

    Once Enrique Serna became aware of this document, it appears that he went to work immediately to rectify the situation. A second, unsolicited document (dated November 26, 2001) was subsequently prepared and sent to the ODA. This document states the CEU has the facilities to provide instruction for Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral degrees. However, it also goes on to say that the CEU had presented to the Department of Education (Secretaría de Educacion) the Virtual Education Program offering Masters and Doctoral degrees, but it was still in process of being approved.

    There you have it. Contrary to what they have been advertising on their Web site for quite some time (see the open letter from the Vice-Rector of the Centro de Estudios Universitarios, Jose Cardenas Cavazos, concerning the authority to grant degrees here), as of November of last year, the CEU did not have degree granting authority for Doctoral degrees, or any other Masters, except the one in Administration.

    Chances are, they still don’t have approval, or certainly Enrique would have made sure that the ODA would have been notified immediately. However, now that this is public knowledge, how long will it be before MIGS’s esteemed General Counsel, Enrique G. Serna, works his mojo once again?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2002
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    You know, one just doesn't expect a school's officials to just lie about something like that. I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to work with this program because everything looked in order. (Or as much as a start up operation could be.) But from the very beginning I began having doubts, primarily because they simply were not staffed to run a school. As I said to John Bear privately many times, there was no "There" there. Still, I thought they were sincere. But then they kept talking about doing this and that, but didn't have anyone in place to get it done. In my two FTF meetings with Armando, I was convinced that he was involved at least to the extent of ensuring the agreement between MIGS and the CEU was in order. But now I think he was relying on Enrique and Sheila for that. Dumb. (Armando and me. :rolleyes: )

    When it became clear in August of 2001 that MIGS was not proceeding properly with Florida licensure, I could no longer give them the benefit of the doubt. I bailed.

    For Enrique, he'll have to decide what's more important to him, the remaining shreds of his professional dignity and reputation, or his relationship with Sheila. My guess is Enrique will bail out quietly. I don't know how much longer MIGS can go on in an unlicensed fashion.

    Let's see, no legal authority to operate, many mis-statements regarding their approval to award degrees, phantom faculty members, deceptive promotions. You don't think Levicoff got it right, do you? :D (IMHO, Steve made a very informed and educated guess. He didn't have all the facts, but new better than to give Sheila and company any room for doubt. I took them at face value, he didn't believe them. He was right.)

    It now appears--as I believe Gus supposed a long time ago--that the CEU rented their name to MIGS. That the CEU wasn't--despite what was told to UNESCO--going to award the degrees. I suspected as much when I finally left last summer--I told people around me that I would leave if it began to appear I was involved with a program that would result in a degree issued from Florida and signed by Bruce Forman and Armando Arias. If the CEU in Monterrey wasn't both authorized to award the degrees and in fact going to, then this was nothing more than an unlicensed sham. And that is precisely what it turned out to be.

    I'm not sorry about trying to do something with all of this. I'm just sorry that I trusted these people. Oh, and I'm glad others like Gus did not. It took that to bring this down.

    Rich Douglas
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2002
  3. This is truly amazing. I really hope (but doubt) that someone will spend some time in gaol for this fraud because this debacle may taint other attempts to establish U.S.-based collaborative relationships with GAAP foreign universities.
  4. Ike

    Ike New Member

    I was skeptical about the legitimacy of MIGS/CEU from the beginning. That was why I stated in this forum (about a year ago) that a CEU Ph.D. is GAAP equivalent only and only if CEU is authorized to award doctoral degrees in Mexico. Today, we are finally sure that CEU has never been authorized to award doctoral degrees in Mexico. Thank you Guz for the info.
  5. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member


    Let’s not forget that the real thanks belong to the hardworking individuals of the State of Oregon, Office of Degree Authorization; the State of Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; and the Commission for Independent Education of the State of Florida Department of Education.

    I won’t name them individually (they know who they are), but I do want to publicly express my gratitude. Way too often these individuals are on the receiving end of a lot of criticism, but in truth, these dedicated public servants are, overall, doing a great job.
  6. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

  7. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    In the meeting that John and I had with Armando, I clearly remember Armando telling us how CEU had received it's official approval to grant "doctorados" about a month or two prior. (This would have been around December of 2000.) I would wager, as Rich has said, that Armando was relying on Sheila's word (and maybe Enrique) rather than verifying himself... he just didn't strike me as the sort who would be a boldfaced liar, which one would have to be in order to make such a statement.

    On the other hand, I can easily imagine Sheila perpetrating such an untruth... and I suppose it could also be possible that whomever at CEU is getting his or her pockets lined by Sheila over this deal could have also pulled a fast one on Sheila.

    But the sad part is, people (Sheila, Armando, Bruce) who are running a higher education program really *ought* to understand the value of primary research... check out everything at the source for yourself, and don't rely on anyone else.

    The unfortunate thing is, Sheila probably won't throw in the towel. Enrique will probably work his mojo, palms will be greased, the requisite approval will probably be issued, and Sheila will pull another scam to claim that MIGS/CEU *isn't* operating in Florida, and then... who knows?... it might continue to limp along for another few years.
  8. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    I'd like to thank Gus for keeping on top of things, Steve for bringing the whole MIGS debacle to the forefront (albeit not voluntarily), and the Texas & Florida authorities for sticking it to this shadow operation.

    Last, but certainly not least, I think Rich Douglas deserves some recognition for very publically admitting that he made a mistake, which is certainly a rare commodity in these parts. A very classy move, IMO.

  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    It was not difficult (in the end). If the agreement was actually in place, if the CEU, through its autonomous decree, was actually able to award the doctorate. If the people involved were willing to run a real school. If these things were true, then MIGS would have had very serious challenges. THOSE were the reasons I got involved. When it became clear they weren't going to run a real school, and when the Florida licensure issue became a real dust-up last August, it was time to go.

    Rich Douglas, back at The Union
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest


    Are you as vocal an advocate for Union as you were for MIGS?

    I'm really glad this worked out for you, and would certainly enjoy perusing your dissertation--when completed that is. :cool:
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I'm not so sure I was such a vocal advocate for MIGS. If you mean by "vocal" that I said a lot, then that's true. I spent a lot of time defending the concept. Unfortunately, as we've seen, MIGS was not what it presented itself to be.

    If the CEU did indeed have the authority to grant doctorates, and it did indeed contract with an effective organization to develop and conduct those degrees, then I felt the situation could work. But even if MIGS was all it said, there were still reasons to critize the setup. I agree with that, but felt the real faults laid with not its setup, but with its execution.

    I likened the setup to the Touro College/Touro University International example, and expected it to run in a similar fashion. The degree-granting authority would come from the home campus, the CEU (which is a properly recognized university) while the program was conducted under competent educational supervision at MIGS. Well, the CEU doesn't have the authority after all, and it became increasingly clear that MIGS wasn't going to staff its operation to any level necessary to run the school. I finally got sick of it--and the Florida licensure issue they failed to comply with--and left.

    I'm not as vocal about Union because it's an established program many people are familiar with. I'd been a Union learner previously, so I understood the program pretty well. Given a choice between a Union doctorate and one issued by a properly-approved CEU, I'd choose Union every time. But a recognized doctorate from a university in Mexico would have met my needs.

    Union is taking me back after a considerable time away. While I've had to show them I'm still current in my field (Nontraditional Higher Education--I'll let you decide if I'm current), the real kicker in getting me back in was John Bear. John served on my first Union committee, along with Dick Crews, former president of Columbia Pacific University. (John's returning; I won't ask Dick to return since he's out of the business.) John wrote a nice letter to The Union asking if some accomodation could be made for my return. (I left during a divorce and the financial crisis that accompanied it. Ancient history, anymore.) Anyway, The Union was extremely responsive. (When John wrote the previous president about my return, he ignored John twice.) The re-admission committee meets today, but I'm expecting to get back in. They've already given me an informal okay, and my previous core professor (unavailable this time because she's on sabbatical) urged my return. I expect to begin July 1.

    As for what I really think of The Union, well, it's been an up-and-down experience, one I hope to end on a high note next Spring. We'll see.

    Thanks for asking. Now, I'd really like to stop talking about MIGS. The idea wasn't a mistake and is still viable. (Not at MIGS, of course.) But the execution and the players were (mostly) horrid. I was critical about that all along the way, even while defending the concept. The only consideration I had in the deal was free tuition, which I never utilized. (In fact, I paid my admission and evaluation fees.) I wasted a lot of time trying to help this wreck get started. My wife is still ticked at me for all the effort I put into MIGS. She's right.

    Rich Douglas
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    P.S. I still need another adjunct professor on my committee.....

    Rich Douglas:)
  13. Guest

    Guest Guest

    One thing is certain, Union has the gold stamp of RA, and is probably not going to relocate in several other states anytime soon! :D

    All the best in your studies!
  14. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    In Rich's Favor . . .

    I think it's important to distinguish Rich's past relationship with MIGS/CEU from his prospective future relationship with Union.

    Those who are familiar with the MIGS saga may recall that I had often referred to Rich as "a shill for MIGS." And I have no problem with that - remember, that was his job, so to speak. Rich signed his posts with the title "MIGS Research Assistant," an unpaid role he assumed in exchange for free tuition (such as it was). Therefore, his job was to be an active advocate for MIGS, and he did that quite well. I would have expected no less.

    (My role, of course, was to trash him for doing so. But he no longer does so, and I no longer trash him. This is the politic of education, folks. You see, Rich and I are both nice guys; we were simply on opposing teams.)

    Rich's role with Union will be different - he will be a doctoral learner like any other doctoral learner, and will not be expected to hype or shill for Union as he did for MIGS. It is neither necessary nor required, especially when you're paying tuition: you are not only a student or learner, but an educational consumer.

    Rich has already been a vocal advocate for Union, merely through his selection of Union. That, in part, is enhanced because of his critical review of MIGS. It took a while, but there appears to be no question as to where he stands regarding MIGS and CEU. And I give him much credit for that - one of the hardest things to do is to state in public, "I fucked up." Rich has done that, and he has repudiated his past and the actions of MIGS, and that enhances his credibility tremendously.

    So, just as I have semi-retired from the zoo of nontraditional education, I think it's important that we allow Rich to go on with his life and dedicate himself to completing his Ph.D. I have all confidence that he will do so quite competently.
  15. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Re: In Rich's Favor . . .

    Indeed, Steve, I too have confidence that Rich will do well.

    Do you carry a laptop with you in the big rig? Your current vocation would be the perfect opportunity to do some updated research and write a 2003 version of NIFI. While on the road you could actually visit these "schools" posing as a truck driver (well, you actually wouldn't be posing:cool: ), gather all the needed data and make yet another contribution to DL.

    Seriously, I would be pleased to have an updated version of NIFI.
  16. Neil Hynd

    Neil Hynd New Member


    What the second letter (DOCUMENT No. DACCE/1588/2001) actually states is:-

    "As an authorized University, the CEU has the proper authority and faculty to provide education on college and bachelor degrees, as well as Master and Doctorate degrees."

    That's not quite what Gus has written ....

    The plot thickens ......


  17. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    No, Neil, what the document actually states is:

    “Como Universidad autorizada, el CEU tiene facultades para impartir estudios de bachillerato y Educación Superior, tanto a nivel de Licenciatura como en Posgrado, incluyendo Maestrias y Doctorados.”

    The proper translation of “el CEU tiene facultades”, in this context, is that the CEU has the facilities (or, in other words, the ability and or the means—the same meaning the word faculties has in English). Moreover, the document is also clear that this ability pertains to imparting studies, or teaching at graduate and post graduate levels including Masters and Doctorates (“para impartir estudios de bachillerato y Educación Superior, tanto a nivel de Licenciatura como en Posgrado, incluyendo Maestrias y Doctorados.”). This statement has been worded very carefully, but under no circumstances can it be interpreted to mean that the CEU has been granted the authority by the Secretary of Education of the State of Nuevo Leon, Mexico to grant doctoral degrees.

    Furthermore, the next paragraph clearly states that the CEU has presented (or applied for approval) to the Secretaria de Educación (Department of Education) the “Programa de Educación Virtual a nivel de Maestría y Doctorado (the Virtual Education Program at the Masters and Doctoral levels, or in other words, MIGS), but it is still in the process of being approved (“el cual se encuentra en processo de tramitación”).

    The first document (Of. No. DACCE/1030/2001) issued by the Department of Education of the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico dated August 8, 2001 uses extremely clear language concerning the authority to grant degrees, and refers to an published list of all institutions that have the authority or official recognition of programs that are part of the state education system (“el listado de instituciones Educativas que cuentan con autorización o reconocimiento de validez official de estudios que se encuentran incorporados al Sistema Educativo Estatal”). This official publication is required by Article 108 of the education laws of the state of Nuevo Leon, and clearly lists that the CEU is authorized to grant Bachelor degrees and one Masters degree. Referring to this official publication, the Director of Accreditation, Certification, and School Control unambiguously states that the CEU was not authorized to issue doctorates.

    The bottom line, however, is this. The purpose of the second document you are referring to, Neil, was an attempt to remove MIGS from the ODA list. The ambiguous wording on the one hand, and the fact that it clearly stated that the virtual education program (the only program purported by the CEU and MIGS to offer doctoral degrees) still had not been approved on the other, failed to contradict Of. No. DACCE/1030/2001, which unambiguously states that the CEU was not authorized to issue doctorates. As a result, no documentation exists to support MIGS’s claim that the CEU is authorized to grant any degrees other than at the Bachelor level and one Masters (Business Administration), MIGS (in whatever incarnation they are in now) remains on the ODA list, and they have been found (and fined) to be operating illegally in Texas and Florida.

    So the plot doesn’t thicken, Neil. In fact, it has pretty much been fully exposed. The only thing that remains to be described is the full plan concerning the money making potential of the venture (trust me, it wasn’t based on the income from tuition). Although supported by a significant amount of evidence, I have refrained from commenting on this, as it is still only a theory and involves some degree of conjecture. Until the appropriate authorities have rendered their decisions, I have limited myself to only posting facts. And even now, I have not revealed here everything I know, so as to not jeopardize ongoing investigations and legal processes.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2002
  18. Neil Hynd

    Neil Hynd New Member

    Indeed Gus,

    What you quote can appear to be a convoluted trail ..... but then what exactly are the implications of CEU being "constituted as a Free University by State Administrative Resolution ..... executed by the Mexican Ministry of Education etc." ?

    Incidentally, the extract I gave previously was from what I understood to be the "official translation".

    The first letter (August 2001) you mentioned does seem actually to have been wrong - which is why a corrected letter was issued by Neuvo Leon (not CEU) in November 2001.

    Perhaps the Mexican approach to Higher Education really does allow for the "Autonomous Presidential Decree" that is mentioned by the Vice Rector ... whatever that means ?

    It may also be that the degree approval process is as stated by the Vice Rector in the aforementioned letter, and is little more than completion of procedural aspects.

    In which case, rather than being of scam proportions that your analysis leans towards, there has probably been some inept marketing (as I think John Bear concluded) and launch management.

    The purpose of the second letter to Oregon was to correct information in their possession and on their web site that CEU was not able to award doctoral degrees.

    In fact, ODA changed their wording in November 2001 on receipt of the corrected Nuevo Leon letter from the previous "CEU is not able to award doctoral degrees " (or some such) to words of the type "ODA recognises any degree issued by CEU".



  19. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    One must always keep in mind that this is not about the CEU. I personally do not doubt, that if the CEU wanted to start issuing doctoral degrees in Mexico, they could do so legally with a minimum of effort. The problem is that they have not expended any effort to do so, nor do they appear to want to do so in the near future. Once again the CEU (through actions such as applying for authority to grant doctoral degrees only through the Virtual Education Program), is indicating that this is not about the CEU (the residential campus in Mexico), it is about MIGS/CEU, which, of course, is a horse of a completely different color.

    Please explain and cite the source of what you were led to believe was an “official” translation.

    How do you come to the conclusion that the August 2001 document was wrong? It cites specific legal documents and laws in support of its statements. And furthermore, the corrected document of November 2001 does nothing to refute the statements of the August 2001 document. The only additional information provided is that the CEU had applied for approval of the Virtual Education Program at the Masters and Doctoral levels. More importantly, however, it also goes on to state that this application had not yet been approved; it was still being processed.

    The first document was a direct response (albeit six months later) to a request from the Office of Degree Authorization of the State of Oregon. This official (stamped and sealed, not a mere note) document stated, in no uncertain terms, that the CEU was not authorized to offer doctoral degrees.

    It was only after Enrique Serna became aware of the existence and contents of said document that a second, unsolicited, document was prepared. The first document is very legal and specific; the second document appears to be an attempt to appease someone, yet it goes to great pains not to say anything that wasn’t true.

    Keep in mind, that the question posed was a simple one and demanded a simple answer. Was the CEU authorized to grant degrees at the doctoral level? The first document is straightforward and to the point; according to the official records, the answer is no. The second document describes the legality of the existence of the CEU (Institución de Educación Superior, Universidad Libre, Resolución Administrativa, blah, blah, blah), an ambiguous statement to the effect that the CEU is a real university and has the ability to teach at the Masters and Doctoral levels, but nowhere in that document is there anything even remotely resembling a statement that the CEU is authorized or officially recognized (the proper legalese used by the Secretaria de Educación of the state of Nuevo Leon) to grant doctoral degrees.

    Mexico, does indeed, recognize the Autonomous Presidential Decree. In fact, I was among the first to question why approval by the state department of education was necessary, in light of the fact that the CEU was a Universidad Autonoma. (Although having grown up in South America, I believe I know the answer to this question. ;) )

    The process, as described by MIGS (and the CEU) actually went further than just an approval of the degree program; each individual learning contract and each individual degree had to go through an approval process by the Secretary of Education. Much has been written about this, but, in essence, neither MIGS nor the CEU ever specifically claimed to grant the degree. (Perhaps there is something to be said for institutions that post a copy of the diploma online, after all. ;) )

    As explained by the Vice-Rector of the CEU, in his welcome letter, “Upon completion of the degree requirements within the time allocated by the Secretary of Education by way of approval of the time line in the learning contract, the Secretary of Education of the State of Nuevo Leon will issue their approved degree.” It now appears possible, that when he wrote “the Secretary of Education,” he really meant the Secretary himself (who just happens to be an honorary trustee of MIGS), as an individual, and not, as many supposed, the Department of Education (attributing his mistake to poor English skills and a bad translation of Secretaria de Educación).

    Unquestionably the purpose of the second document was to attempt to convince someone that the CEU was able to award doctoral degrees. Its purpose was also to imply (perhaps assisted by the process of translation?) that because the CEU was deemed able or had applied to grant doctoral degrees (albeit through something termed the Virtual Education Program) that it somehow had the authority, or legal recognition to do so. Whether it succeeded in the first instance is irrelevant; it failed miserably to convince most anyone (such as the ODA, and officials from other state departments of education) that the CEU was authorized to issue doctoral degrees.

    Your statements are extremely misleading. :rolleyes: You are attempting to imply that the ODA currently accepts the CEU’s doctoral degrees because they removed any reference to their not accepting them from the Web site, and that by being the impetus for that change, the documents in question provide proof of the CEU’s authority to grant doctoral degrees. However, your quotes from the ODA Web site are false, and therefore your conclusions are erroneous. The changes the ODA made to their Web site prior to and after receipt of the documents in question are not as you describe. The receipt of the documents did indeed prompt a change in the Web site, but they were as follows.

    Prior to the receipt of the documents we are discussing, the footnotes concerning MIGS read:
    Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies. ODA is trying to determine whether this U.S. corporate entity is a legitimate branch of a Mexican institution. We do not have a definitive answer yet but have contacted appropriate government agencies in the U.S. and Mexico in an attempt to make an accurate determination. When we have further information we will post it here.

    Upon receipt of the long-awaited documents from the Secretary of Education of the State of Nuevo Leon the footnotes concerning MIGS on the ODA Web site were amended (and currently read) as follows:
    Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies. As of December, 2001, this entity is not authorized to operate in Texas or Florida, where it claims to operate. Oregon will not accept MIGS-related degrees until satisfactory evidence of its legal status in the U.S. and its degree-granting authority is obtained. Oregon does recognize degrees issued in Mexico by Centro de Estudias Universitarios of Nuevo Leon, Mexico.”

    By specifying that the degrees be “issued in Mexico” the ODA is indicating acceptance of only CEU’s residential programs (Bachelors, Masters), and the clear statement that they will not accept any “MIGS-related” degrees reinforces this. Being that the CEU’s currently pending application before the Secretaria de Educación of the state of Nuevo Leon for authority to grant doctoral degree is only through the so-called Virtual Education Program (which has “MIGS-related” written all over it), it is doubtful that the ODA will be accepting any CEU doctorates any time soon without further (unequivocal) documentation from the state of Nuevo Leon. If you have just recently spoken to Alan, or have any written documents from the ODA stating otherwise, I’d like to read about it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2002
  20. Shaun

    Shaun New Member



    I read your posts concerning MIGS. What an eye opener. I have been considering applying there for my graduate work. Thank you for saving my bacon.

    You talked about the "Union", not to sound uneducated, but what is it you are reffering to. I am assuming the "John" you are reffering to in your postings is John Bear? If so, this "Union" already has credibility. I am finishing up a distance learning BSITM through Touro University Int'l, you mentioned them previously, do you like their program? I am finding it quite good.

    I look forward to your reply.

    Shaun Johnson
    [email protected]

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