MIGS Operating Illegally in Texas

Discussion in 'The Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies' started by Gus Sainz, Oct 31, 2001.

  1. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    This Monday, by means of an administrative decision, the Commissioner of Higher Education of the State of Texas found MIGS and degree.com to be operating illegally in State of Texas, in violation of the Texas Education Code. It was determined that MIGS and degree.com did not have the appropriate certificate of authority to call themselves a university or grant degrees.

    MIGS and degree.com have been levied an administrative penalty of $5,000 for each of the 42 counts of offering a degree (one for each degree MIGS is offering), and $3,000.00 for the count of calling itself a university, for a grand total of $230,000.00.

    MIGS and Degree.com were deemed to have an office in the State of Texas, from which they were soliciting business and offering to grant degrees. (These facts were considered to indisputable due to the allegations in a suit filed by Mr. Enrique Serna (attorney for, and one of the owners of MIGS) on behalf of MIGS and degree.com against Dr. Steve Levicoff.) MIGS and degree.com were offered an opportunity to remedy said violations (and avoid administrative penalties) by ceasing to call themselves a university, desisting from offering degrees, and refunding all tuitions paid to their students. Mr. Serna countered with partial remedies, such as offering to only to refund the tuition to the 4 students mentioned is MIGS’s lawsuit against Dr. Levicoff. The partial remedies offered were unacceptable to the State of Texas.

    MIGS can, of course, as is the case with all administrative decisions, appeal. However, because the facts in this case have already been stipulated by MIGS in their lawsuit against Dr. Levicoff, they probably have little chance of success. Moreover, if MIGS does not abide by the decision of the Texas Commission on Higher Education, or if they choose to appeal, more than likely the Commission will seek an injunction through the Texas Attorney General.

    Gus Sainz
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Interesting and disturbing. How did you hear of this, and where might we go to read about it ourselves?

    Rich Douglas
  3. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    Unfortunately, currently there isn’t a Web site that I can refer you to where you might read this information. In fact, the letter notifying MIGS of the administrative decision was only mailed this Monday, and it is quite possible that the owners of MIGS are first finding out about the decision (although it probably was expected) here, by means of this forum. (And we do know they lurk here, don’t we?)

    All the information I posted is a matter of public record relayed to me in a private communication with a highly placed source within the Texas Commission of Higher Education in Austin, Texas. Until the information is actually transcribed and posted somewhere (could be a matter of months), I felt it would be best if I did not publicly reveal his or her name. This is simply to prevent my source from being deluged with requests for information. I will, however, Rich, privately email you the name and title of the individual.

    Gus Sainz
  4. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    This is a most ironic development. I always assumed that Mr. Serna was being flexible with the truth when he claimed to operate out of Texas. I had assumed that he had said that to make filing the suit easier. Since it appeared totally frivolous, he probably knew that there was no chance that MIGS would pursue the suit. However being a lawyer, Mr. Serna should have known that the law seems to frown on lies and dishonesty.

    It appears that MIGS was such a mess that they will likely never get their act cleaned up.
  5. PSalmon

    PSalmon New Member

    Steve must, in his words, be "laughing his ass off."
  6. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    It's more than a bit ironic and also funny as hell that they've been hoisted on their own petard...the Levicoff lawsuit.

  7. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    This thread is one of the few on degreeinfo that has caused me to laugh out loud. IMHO, this is probably one of the most classic cases of attorney ineptitude I've ever seen... and surely enough to have the esteemed Mr. Serna granted the "left foot of fellowship" as Levicoff calls it, by the MIGS board.

    If ever there was a case of a horrible backfire, this is it:

    Upon filing the suit against Levicoff, Serna essentially said:

    "Yes, your honor, we're doing business in Texas, we always have, these four students showed up here in my office, so we certainly have the right to file against Dr. Levicoff here."

    Upon receiving the findings from the Commissioner, the response would have to be something like:

    "Well, aaahhh, um, Your Honor, you see, we, ah, well... the fact is, um, our offices in Texas never really were, um..."

    Particularly delightful is the point that since MIGS has stipulated in the Levicoff lawsuit that they're doing business in Texas, they have essentially no means to now claim they're *not* doing business in Texas.

    Sometimes, karmic adjustments come about pretty quickly.
  8. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    I really can't decide who is the most amusing member of the MIGS crew. The lawyer that is supposed to threaten to sue people for saying things that the MIGS crew doesn't want to hear and is supposed to keep MIGS on the straight and narrow legally. What he actually does is get them in deep legal and financial trouble and makes them a laughing stock. Or is the most amusing member the owner that advertises MIGS on a website that sells get rich quick schemes and term papers and apparently has a history of criminal mail fraud.

    Perhaps the MIGS crew did not really intend to start up a school but are instead just going through this whole elaborate scheme for our amusement. If that is the case then I must take off my hat and salute the absolute genius of it all. I must thank you all.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Both. I believe Arias is sincere, but detached. (I've forwarded the substance of Gus's comments to Arias with no response.) I also believe Forman is trying to run a graduate program. (Ineptly with great surliness, however.) But I also beleive Danzig is in it for the cash alone, as is Serna. I was in it to get in on the ground floor of a legitmate, degree-granting enterprise--and to take one of those degrees for myself.

    Rich Douglas
  10. Ohnalee

    Ohnalee New Member

  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

  12. PSalmon

    PSalmon New Member

    I wonder if MIGS will be the first school to move straight from the "accredited" chapter in one edition of Bears' Guide to the "mill" chapter in the next?

    On one hand this is quite funny; on the other I feel badly for the people who have now been so humiliated by the incredible ineptness of one or two people.
  13. Bill Highsmith

    Bill Highsmith New Member

    This is interesting from the POV of the reach of the law. Can Texas reach to Florida and fine MIGS for all students, since MIGS also claimed to be operating from Florida? Can MIGS declare they are no longer doing business in Texas (if they ever were) and negotiate or sue to pay back only those students matriculated "from Texas," whatever that means for this particular virtual school. Or was the count of 42 referring to students living in Texas?
  14. bgossett

    bgossett New Member

    Remember the four students from the suit who appeared in San Antonio and Ft. Lauderdale "concurrently in person"?

    The "42" refers, I believe, to individual graduate degree programs, rather than students.

    Bill Gossett
  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    A decision such as this will likely be recognized in Florida as well. Keep in mind, Florida denied the MIGS application for licensure as inadequate. Now they are quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education saying MIGS still isn't licensed to operate there.

    Enrique Serna practices law in Texas. To not comply with this order cannot possibly be good for his standing with the state bar.

    It is all remarkable, ironic, and fitting. When you agree to work with a school, you expect them to be what they say they are. I was trusting enough to get involved in what I thought was a contractual agreement between one entity offering instruction on behalf of another. Well, that contractual arrangement seems to be intact, despite the fact that the contractor (MIGS) doesn't seem to have a legal right to operate.

    If MIGS had presented itself all along as nothing more than the instructional delivery system of the CEU, and if MIGS had simply applied for and received permission from Florida to operate an administrative office, and if the administration and faculty of MIGS was actually part of the CEU, and....well, you get the point.

    Properly presented and managed, the MIGS/CEU arrangement could have been akin to the Touro International University/Touro College situation. But, no.

    Rich Douglas
  16. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    Just when you think the final curtain has come down on this tragic comedy, another encore rolls onto the stage.

    I am a bit peeved, however, that Steve Levicoff swiped my line about MIGS being hoisted on its own petard. [​IMG]

  17. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    I predict that MIGS is for all intents and purposes dead. I believe that to be true for a three reasons.

    1. At this point they still can't operate legally where they apparently want to, Florida.
    2. The fine from Texas is going to scare the daylights out of the money grubbing owners that weren't willing to spend a few dollars on desparately needed items.
    3. The final straw is that apparently neither the Oregan ODA nor the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board could get CEU to back up the MIGS claims that they would issue the degrees. That means to me that CEU probably has cold feet and wants to distance themselves from the whole hilarious mess.

    Lights out, goodbye and good ridance to bad rubbish, its all over except for the shouting and laughing.

    Now excuse me while I go take a free refresher course in the Macerana.
  18. Bill Highsmith

    Bill Highsmith New Member

    That may be, but so many "troubled" schools seem to have an infinite capacity to shamelessly shrug their shoulders and move to a new jurisdiction.
  19. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    Actually, Bruce, I was misquoted . . . The phrase I used was "hoist on their own petard," not hoisted. Few people are familiar with the phrase these days (although it appears in Hamlet), but it seemed perfect in light of the fact that the Texas Commission on Higher Ed would likely have not known about MIGS at all were it not for their own lawsuit.

    If anything, it illustrates another old epression: Give 'em enough rope, and they'll hang themselves. When I decided to retire from pontificating on D/L issues, I assumed the issue had died. But justice is poetic, and sometimes damn funny . . .

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