Now that MIGS is off the Oregon site...

Discussion in 'The Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies' started by PaulC, Feb 13, 2001.

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  1. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    Wow, an oldie-but-goodie thread returns!

    I am delighted to see how Oregon is handling the MIGS situation. Remember, as a state education department, ODA has to take a more careful approach than my shoot-from-the-hip style, and the current ODA statement is quite accurate. As I understand it, inquiries were sent to both MIGS and CEU, and there has been no response at this time. Inquiries have also been made with governmental entities in Florida, Texas, and Mexico, and this issue is currently under investigation by those entities. Until all parties have exhausted their chance to respond, I find the "in flux" status of MIGS on the list to be perfectly appropriate.

    Let's look, however, at the specific wording of the Oregon statement: "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."

    The reference to MIGS as a "U.S. corporate entity" goes back to a quetion that was posted in another thread: Who really owns MIGS?

    At the time we were quite speculative, but the answer has become clearer with further research (which is being provided to all relevant state departments of education).

    The answer is that the primary "owners" are: Sheila and Bill! Now, follow me on this one (I'll try to keep it fairly brief) . . .

    DEGREE.COM is registered as an L.L.C. (limited liability company in Nevada), cross-registered as a foreign L.L.C. in Florida.

    On the most recent Florida filing, the members are listed as Oxbridge Limited Partnership, Josh Bennett, and Enrique Serna.

    MIGS is registered in Florida as a fictitious name owned by DEGREE.COM.

    The General Partner of Oxbridge, Ltd. is William Danzig. Oxbridge increased the capital contribution of its partners in 1999, reflected in a filing of 2/3/00 - around the time MIGS was launched.

    Oxbridge has its own web domain - oxbridge.org - which is registered through Network Solutions to (big drum roll here) National Success Marketing, Inc.

    And the two, and only, officers of National Success Marketing, Inc. are, of course (big trumpet flourish here) Sheila and Bill Danzig, with Sheila listed as registered agent.

    (Applause and cheers come here.)

    In short, there is now sufficient data available to refer to MIGS as a "U.S. corporate entity," which justifies Oregon raising a question, at the least, about MIGS' legitimacy, including its relationship to CEU. MIGS, CEU, and Mexico have had the chance to do their tap dance, but the audience is still waiting for the first click of the taps. Hence the "in flux" status of MIGS on the Oregon list, as well as ongoing determinations in Florida and Texas.

    As for me, I find that, despite the faults of the State of Florida in the most recent election, they're a wild and wacky bunch of folks when it comes to making corporate documents available on the Internet - in TIFF files, photocopies and all. Which is why I'm like a pig that is gleefully wallowing in slop (okay, no comments from the peanut gallery). I have the filings in front of me as I write this, and they're just too funny to be true . . . but they are true. You see, despite Sheila and Bill dropping off the MIGS board of trustees, we have been able to, speaking loosely, "pierce the corporate veil."

    Bottom line? I can say it myself at this point: MIGS is still a degree mill.

    A mill! Yeah, baby, a mill! (Love to all at MIGS . . . I miss ya, Enrique!)
     
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    During my meeting with the President of MIGS last weekend, he made it clear that the debate over MIGS' status as a school in the U.S. is moot, because it is not. According to him, MIGS is a branch of the CEU, period. This is also supported by statements from the CEU administration, information on the MIGS website, information in the International Handbook of Universities, public comments made by various CEU officials in other places, and the inclusion of MIGS' programs in CEU's approval to operate by governmental agencies in Mexico.

    I found it premature for Oregon to list MIGS in this fashion in the first place, and was relieved to see the listing removed. I still wonder why this guy (and it is just a one-person effort regarding ODA's list) would have an entry about a situation he's still trying to verify. I understand from the last go-round that he wanted to verify independently the MIGS/CEU relationship. That's great. I look forward to what he finds and publishes.

    Whether or not MIGS is operating properly in Florida is of great concern. My understanding from Florida's website is they register schools from other jurisdiction having offices in Florida, which fits the MIGS/CEU situation. I do not know what is required to be properly registered/listed, nor do I know whether or not MIGS/CEU has met those requirements. Does anyone else?

    Rich Douglas
     
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I forgot, the CEU's English language website (which lists MIGS as its Virtual Branch) is www.theceuonline.com

    Rich Douglas
     
  4. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    Both Florida and Texas require that a degree-granting institution that has [/i]any[/i] presence in the state be authorized to operate by the state Department of Education. MIGS did neither, ergo there are operating illegally. Period.

    The fact that Armanda told you that MIGS is "a branch of CEU, period," is irrelevant. MIGS still needs an authorization to operate in any manner in the areas in which they have claimed to do so. This includes claiming Florida as the location of its "administrative office" (according to the MIGS web site); ditto Texas, in which MIGS claimed to operate in the Plaintiff's Original Petition of the lawsuit.

    Bottom line: Armando may be a competent educator, but he appears to know squat about the law. To have an administrative office somewhere is to operate in that locale, and the "We are a Mexican school, not a U.S. school" argument won't cut it.

    Thus, Rich, your understanding is correct. FLorida does register (or, more accurately, authorize) foreign (meaning foreign-to-Florida) schools. But the schools have to apply for that authorization. Considering that the FLorida State Board of Independent Colleges & Universities had never heard of MIGS when I spoke to them, I'd say that the fault of that belongs to MIGS, not to the SBICU.

    I have spoken. (Hee-hee!)
     
  5. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    We agree. However, Florida allows out-of-state schools to operate offices with their (Florida's) permission. It's not clear whethor or not MIGS qualifies under this category, or must be licensed as a school (or, even, be exempt from licensing, as are schools accredited by DOE-recognized accrediting agencies).

    There were two points made: 1) All indications are that MIGS is an integral part of the CEU (hence my comments about Armando), and

    2) MIGS does not look like it was (is?) operating lawfully in Florida.

    Rich Douglas
     
  6. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Rich, next time you talk to the gentleman, please ask him to clarify a couple of issues:

    1. How it is that he finds the time to be a university president in Florida when he already has full time responsibilities as a professor and dean thousands of miles away in California? How can a legitimate doctorate granting educational institution be created and developed from nothing with what apparently is only part-time leadership over the phone?

    2. If MIGS is really "accredited" as it claims to be, who exercises quality assurance oversight over its activities here in the United States? Has anyone from anywhere ever made a site visit to the MIGS operation in Florida or wherever it is? Have the Mexican educational regulators ever done anything more than simply approving CEU's proposed doctoral curricula on paper? Do Mexican educational officials have any experience with these kinds of foreign collaborative relationship and do they have any kind of mechanism in place to police them?
     
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Why don't you ask him? Or ask the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bruce Forman. Or the Director of Admissions, Ric Feinberg. Or one of the Chairs at MIGS. Or the Rector of CEU. Or one of the other CEU officials that oversee MIGS. Or anyone else at MIGS or CEU. Enjoy.

    Rich Douglas
     
  8. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Once again you are dancing away from the question without answering it, Rich. Who exercises quality assurance oversight over MIGS, and how has that oversight been exercised?

    By using the phrase, "Or one of the other CEU officials that oversee MIGS", you seem to suggest that the oversight is exercised by CEU. Is that accurate?

    Do the Mexican educational authorities themselves have any QA function over MIGS here in the US? If so, how do they exercise it? If the Mexican regulators don't take an interest in MIGS, then how can they claim to effectively monitor CEU, when all of CEU's doctoral programs are really taught in a different country by MIGS?

    Does the Mexican authorities' interest in the schools they "accredit" extend beyond simply approving their curricula on paper to the question of how (and by whom) those curricula are actually delivered in practice?

    Look at it this way: By all accounts MIGS was created and is owned by people who operate a pre-written term paper service and who advertise internet get-rich-quick schemes. That certainly fits the profile of a degree mill operator. So if their school is to have any credibility, it is going to have to have somebody highly credible from outside observing it closely. That's really not an unreasonable demand, it's only what is expected of any accredited institution. In fact, it's what the word "accredited" means.

    But MIGS declined to submit to the inspection of recognized accreditors in its own country. Instead MIGS sought a very unusual form of off-shore "accreditation" without any explanation of why they made that choice or how it actually works. We just have this weird dance with the CEU and a lot of waving of the International Handbook of Universities and invocations of "GAAP'. All of which is supposed to be "just as good as" regional accreditation.

    But Rich, unless somebody credible from outside is really monitoring this thing for quality assurance, it amounts to nothing. It's just the emperor's new clothes. It's Berne all over again.

    MIGS chose to not to pursue recognized American accreditation in favor of something that nobody quite understands. Something that is apparently unique in American practice and perhaps in Mexican practice as well. It may be entirely valid, but then again it might be just a sham. So I think that the burden of proof is on them, and on their spokesmen, to explain in detail just what they are doing and why anyone else should believe in it.

    MIGS may be a fine institution that we all should admire. But they need to tell us why. If they were proud of what they are doing, you would think that they would be eager to do so. If the gentlemen you named in your post all have the time to talk to me, I would like to invite one of them to use that time more effectively by appearing on this group and taking questions.
     
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Rich Douglas
     
  10. H. Piper

    H. Piper member

    Originally posted by BillDayson:
    By all accounts MIGS was created and is owned by people who operate a pre-written term paper service and who advertise internet get-rich-quick schemes. That certainly fits the profile of a degree mill operator. So if their school is to have any credibility, it is going to have to have somebody highly credible from outside observing it closely. That's really not an unreasonable demand, it's only what is expected of any accredited institution. In fact, it's what the word "accredited" means.

    I was looking around the MIGS website the other day and came across a page - http://www.degree.com/migshome.htm - which states "Earn An Accredited Graduate Degree From Home at Your Own Pace".

    What a crock! The MIGS website is obviously marketing primarily to US citizens - I have yet to see a Spanish language version of the site - and yet they are claiming to bestow accredited graduate degrees, without a word of explanation as to how these degrees should be regarded as "accredited" to a US consumer. A blatant case of false advertising, I'd say.
     
  11. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    Rich:

    I must, respectfully, disagree; I do not agree that all indications are that MIGS is a branch or division of the CEU. For this to be requires more than just a comment from someone associated with MIGS or the CEU. All the documents uncovered to date reveal that The Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies (MIGS) is, legally speaking, nothing more, nothing less, than a fictitious name registered by Degree.com, LLC, a limited liability corporation. According to filings with the Florida Division of Corporations, Oxbridge Limited Partnership (whose General Partner is William Danzig), Josh Bennett (a Florida attorney who is also the registered agent), and Enrique Serna (a Texas attorney who is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of MIGS) are the owners (in a LLC the owners are called members) of Degree.com, LLC.

    Of all the MIGS legal documents that have come to light so far, not one mentions the CEU. The CEU does not appear anywhere as an owner (as you would expect if MIGS was a branch or division), as a partner, or even someone that has entered into a contractual relationship with MIGS. It appears that the only way CEU could legally be an owner, and therefore MIGS be a division of the CEU, would be if the CEU was a partner in Oxbridge Limited Partnership. That, of course, would mean the CEU would have an interest in all the other fictitious names of Oxbridge Limited Partnership including, but not limited to, Euphoria Lifestyles. I consider this highly unlikely.

    MIGS is now claiming they are not a school. MIGS put in a lot of time money and effort to create a distinct brand separate form CEU. They did indeed market themselves as a school, and still do on their own Web site (degree.com): “The Monterrey Institute is a specialized Graduate School established to address the needs of adult learners who desire an accredited graduate degree within a distance education format.” You yourself, Rich, did little to dispel the notion of MIGS as a school by signing many of your posts in numerous other forums with: “Rich Douglas, Ph.D. Candidate, Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies”. It was only after concerns were raised about their legitimacy that MIGS began to backpedal and stress that they were not a separate entity.

    I do not believe anyone questions the CEU’s legitimacy and degree granting authority. I do believe there are a lot of questions concerning not only whether they have exhibited sound judgment in associating themselves with MIGS but also concerning their lack of experience in administering a doctoral program. I cannot fathom why the CEU would not capitalize on their reputation and 30-year history and market their distance graduate program under their own name.

    Rich, because of your insider relationship with MIGS, as well as your MBA and business background, you are in a better position than anyone to answer the question as to what is the precise business and legal relationship between MIGS and the CEU. I see nothing wrong with contractual relationships such as GST and Potchefstroom, or AIHEC and UNISA. MIGS, however, claims its relationship to the CEU to be something different than the evidence shows. I cannot see how statements by people associated with MIGS or the CEU that are contrary to their legal filings will help repair their damaged credibility. I am perplexed by MIGS business model and methods, and therefore question their ability to run a competent graduate business program. If there is a contractual relationship (and all the legal evidence appears to support such a conclusion) the terms and conditions could have a serious impact on all of MIGS present and future students, of which you are one. Contracts can be changed, broken, and even nullified. Furthermore, because MIGS is a separate legal entity (established in a completely different country, no less), the CEU is not bound by any contractual obligations MIGS enters into, nor are they liable for any of MIGS actions. MIGS and the CEU should issue a formal statement explaining their relationship and legal and corporate structure. Current and prospective students should not have to wait for this information to come to light in a court of law.

    I stated this before, and it bears repeating: every time new information comes to light concerning MIGS, it raises more questions than it answers.

    Gus Sainz
     
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Gus:

    Everytime I try to explain that I don't speak for MIGS, I end up speaking for them. Ask them, not me.

    Yes, I contributed to some confusion by signing my posts indicating MIGS, not CEU. That was my mistake, no one else's. It was very early in the process, before I began to sort things out. I'm sure that if other controversial matters didn't occur, what I signed or didn't wouldn't have mattered in the least.

    Who owns what isn't nearly as important as the academic arrangement. CEU will award the degrees earned through MIGS. And the Mexican governmental authorities have explicitly included both the doctoral programs and MIGS in their approval of CEU. I really don't care who owns MIGS, or who operates it, so there's no sense in directing those questions to me.

    I hardly have an "insider" role with MIGS. I'm not paid by them, and I have no authority to speak for them nor make decisions about their operation. I thought back then my research assistant role would involve more than it does now, but that is simply not the case. The only reason I've ever indicated my role with them as student or assistant is so people know about that relationship when I talk about the school and its programs. Self-disclosure.

    What will the end result will be from my program? A Ph.D. from a school that is approved to award it, that meets GAAP, and that was supervised by highly talented, credentialed, and experienced professionals from the field of distance education, MIGS, and the CEU. Are the rest of the issues that have been brought up about MIGS important? Possibly. But not to me. And they never have been. What amazes me is how important they are to a few others (very few)! [​IMG]

    Rich Douglas
     
  13. PaulC

    PaulC Member

    Hey Rich, I know it's off topic, but we really should get together for lunch some day. Do you work in the District, in VA, or in MD?

    Paul Coverstone
     
  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    It is gratefully off-topic. [​IMG] I work in Manassas for another three weeks, then I'm moving to Vienna (Tyson's Corner). I just accepted an offer there. Also, I live in Springfield. Because my wife works nights, early evenings also work for me. E-mail me at: [email protected]


    Rich
     
  15. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    Rich:

    I do not personally know you, but having read many of your posts, I am of the opinion that you are an individual of above-average intelligence. In reviewing your comments concerning MIGS, however, I believe you may have missed your calling in life. With your skills at ducking and dodging issues and questions you would have made a superb politician. (Although, of course, the intelligence factor might have disqualified you.) [​IMG]

    This is where, at least in my opinion, you begin to lose credibility. Are you saying that if MIGS is or was acting illegally (as it appears they were) this is not important to you? Does ethics play any role of importance in a business, school or educational program? Moreover, I believe you meant to say: “What will hopefully be the end result from your program” What would be the outcome if MIGS closed down or filed bankruptcy? Is the CEU obligated to accept your credits, allow you continue your studies or grant you a degree? If you do not have any assurances in writing, there is a good chance they are not even if you have paid MIGS in full. You begin to see that who owns MIGS takes on additional importance. What if the relationship between MIGS and the CEU is a contractual one? If either party defaults, or if the contract is for a limited time, or for a whole host of other reasons, you could once again find yourself in a similar predicament. Come now Rich, be honest, don’t you really want to know? What would happen if, at some point in the future, MIGS associates itself with another less-than-wonderful school or pursues bogus accreditation and proceeds to grant degrees on their own? (This is a very likely scenario. I am currently putting together the pieces of a puzzle where this is exactly what has happened with a U.S. corporation fronting for a legitimate foreign school. I will post my results on this forum when my investigation is complete.) Supposing you successfully complete your degree, how would you feel if after all that hard work and effort, the mere association with MIGS (regardless of the CEU’s legitimacy) tainted the degree to point of making it invaluable? I simply cannot believe an intelligent individual, such as you, could turn a blind eye to these issues or consider them unimportant. To state otherwise would indicate extreme naiveté, acute denial, or a hidden agenda.

    Concerning the importance of these issues to others let me simply say this. The success and failure, as well of the credibility of each and every non-traditional or distance education program impacts everyone one of us that have chosen to educate ourselves and pursue a degree in this manner. Fair or not, in the eyes of prospective employers or admissions counselors, every degree mill, every program that lacks credibility, in turn, diminishes the value of our degree. Therefore, every school, every program, every slick end-run-around accreditation, every owner, every governmental approval, every contractual agreement and joint venture, should and must be scrutinized. It is incumbent upon all of us to insure that the number of credible and successful programs overwhelmingly exceeds those that are not. That is the only way we will eliminate or at least minimize the stigma associated with non-traditional and distance education.

    And, as for the precious few of us concerned with MIGS, it appears by the sheer number of posters that we actually outnumber the number of people that are (reputably) unconcerned enough with these issues to have actually enrolled in the program. [​IMG]

    Gus Sainz
     
  16. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    Now too be fair to MIGS, my guess is that Enrique just fabricated the story about Texas being a place of business. Which I guess it means that MIGS is operating illegally in only Florida not necessarily in Texas as well. The apparently dishonest arrogant people running MIGS probably just assumed that you would stop speaking the truth about them if they made their empty threat. So the apparent lie about them operating in Texas just goes to demonstrate how lies have a tendency to snowball.
     
  17. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    I concur. Enrique appears to be the only presence that MIGS has in Texas, and even that can be questioned by virtue of the fact that Enrique is shown at a Florida address (Josh Bennet's P.O. box) on the most recent Uniform Business Report filed with the Florida Secretary of State.

    But MIGS does operate in Texas. Why? Because their Chairman of the Board and attorney (Enrique, of course, is both) said so in a document filed with a court of law - the Plaintiff's Original Petition.

    Therefore, if MIGS does not operate in Texas, one can only conclude that Enrique put his foot in their mouth. Ya gotta love it! [​IMG]

    The truly fun thing about this whole scenario is - and, again, I agree with Bill - Enrique & Co. engaged in pure B.S. in an attempt to shut me up. It didn't work, and I have given them numerous chances to back off and drop the suit, in which case I would take down the lawsuit web site (http://www.angelfire.com/pa4/levicoff) and the ongoing discussion at DegreeInfo.com and other forums would probably not be taking place. Rich would not have to make a fool of himself by constantly going into denial, Sheila could go on selling "Euphoria" and her other products, she and Bill would not have been exposed as the ultimate owners of MIGS, and MIGS could even begin to correct its many mistakes and begin to travel the road to a semblance of legitimacy. The issue at this point is not that Enrique & Co. made fools of themselves in the first palce, but that they continue to do so.

    And MIGS is still a mill! A mill! Yeah, baby, a mill! [​IMG]

    And if those turkeys ever wise up and do the right thing, they will ultimately find out that I can be a nice guy, and that their scandalous activities can begin to fade into the background. But until then, it's a mill! Yeah, baby . . .
     
  18. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    I've had that suspicion since I first heard about this suit. Of course, we won't know if the claim *is* a fabrication or not until discovery... which will probably never happen. But if it is true that Enrique fabricated the existence of a Texas office, I would *think* that such an an action would be grounds for getting him disbarred, since he knowingly filed a suit in a place with no jurisdiction and knowingly made affirmations to the court that he knew to be false.

    Maybe that's part of why there's been an unearthly silence from MIGS since Enrique promised faithfully that they would go for a swift summary judgement... about seven weeks ago.
     
  19. H. Piper

    H. Piper member

    Originally posted by levicoff:
    And if those turkeys ever wise up and do the right thing,

    Don't hold your breath, buddy. I speak from experience when I say that less-than-wonderful turkeys (I have two particular bird brains in mind - the presidents of Harcourt's CCHS and ICS - Roy "Boy" Winter and Bob "The Nooch" Antonucci) seem completely unable or unwilling to wise up and do the right thing.
     
  20. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    One would hope, but unfortunately it's not likely. Getting disbarred is a serious thing, and the jury doesn't take it lightly. Who is the jury you may ask? Why, it's a bunch of fellow lawyers who are also members of the same bar that the accused is a member of. Does anyone else smell a rat here?

    Bruce
     

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