Friday, August 12, 2016

Raghu Mathur joins a rinky dink local for-profit

"Global"
     As you know, I occasionally Google the name “Raghu P. Mathur.” I've tried to keep track of our former Chancellor.
     He's pursued politics, but his record has proved a difficult obstacle to overcome. He worked briefly for the for-profit (boo! hiss!), Argosy U. No surprise there. Mathur is, after all, a Republican.
     Tonight, my occasional Mathurian Googling yielded a new and curious factoid. I found that Raghu is now “Executive Vice President” of an outfit called “Study America,” based in the city of Orange, on beauteous The City Drive.
     According to SA’s website, Study America
is a global company that specializes in identifying quality students for quality schools. Study America provides a highly supported, custom-tailored international student experiences. Our service include assisting you with your application materials, acquiring your I-20, assisting with your housing needs, organizing language assistance tools, and preparing you to take the TOEFL. We can also assist you with any other program requirements….
     I'm not sure what they mean by calling their little company "global." Maybe somebody down there has a globe on his or her desk.
     The website further explains:
When we were international students studying in Los Angeles 25 years ago, we started Study America to encompass the services we wished we had, such as help with student visa forms, airport pick-up, housing assistance, cultural exchange opportunities, language training and more….
Website: Raghu is on the Study America "team."
     Here’s the Study America “team”:
William M. Vega, Ed.D., Chairman of the Board
Senator Richard Polanco (ret)., Executive Vice President International Relations
Abdi Lajevardi, Chief Executive Officer
Martin C. Yousef, Ed.D., Chief Operating Officer
Ali Ebrahimipour, Chief Information Officer
Tami Erickson, Ph.D., Vice President of Compliance
Raghu P. Mathur, ED. D., Executive Vice President, Academics
Uwe Gemba, Headmaster, American Summer Academy
     At least one name here, beyond Mathur's, will be familiar. Back in 2008, then-Chancellor Mathur hired former Coast Community College District Chancellor Bill Vega as a consultant—possibly at the direction of our accreditor (ACCJC)—to assess “decision making” at the colleges, something that wasn't working well, according to reports.
     Oddly, a day after Vega met with a hastily assembled group of noisy, complaining faculty, Mathur unhired Vega. Or something. It was all very odd. (See here and here.)
     (Fun fact: Vega recently finished a lucrative three-year gig at Dubai Men’s College. That's right: a "men's college" in freakin' Dubai. Concerning the latter, see Slaves of Dubai.)
     Most of the people working at Study America (SA) are small-time. There's Mathur, of course. Mr. Gemba has been associated with various troubled or failed for-profit institutions in Southern California (see Eucasia Schools Worldwide) for decades. Mr. Lajevardi, the CEO of SA, was President of United Education Institute (UEI), which got into hot water with the feds owing to funding hinkitude. Mr. Yousef is or was the Executive Director of the same dodgy for-profit trade school, UEI. I can find nothing about Mr. Ebrahimipour, which is odd given his alleged "past experiences [as] Vice President, CTO, and CIO...." A couple of these guys are local businessmen and I have discovered nothing interesting about them.
     On the other hand, Mr. Polanco, the Executive Vice President, International Relations, served in the State Assembly for eight years, then the State Senate.
     He then became a lobbyist. Money, money, money, baby.

Somewhere in this building
HUH?

A finger in many pies
     In the course of my brief Googling, I came across the name of a small, local for-profit institution called “American Heritage College” (AHC). It was founded in Orange in 2006.
     AHC has the same address as “Study America,” and it sports much of the same “team,” including Mathur! (Five of AHC's "faculty" are on the Study America "team." Mr. Lajevardi is the CEO of both AHC and SA.*)
     On its website, one learns that
American Heritage College is led by a team of highly experienced leaders in postsecondary education, and boasts a faculty composed of leading experts in a variety of fields, such as business, technology, health management, human resources, and more. Furthermore, with courses targeted toward working professionals, our passionate and motivated student body creates an inspiring environment for all.
     In reality, AHC is a tiny operation comprising about ten employees, including five of the folks mentioned above.
American Heritage College "faculty"
     Raghu is identified both as "faculty" and as a member of AHC's board.
     I poked around in AHC's website.
     Most of its programs appear to have no students, not just this year, but year after year. (See also here and here, etc.)
     According to its yearly report (to the Dept. of Consumer Affairs), AHC has a grand total of 27 enrollees, despite its having existed since 2006.
     In the college catalog, we’re told that “American Heritage College does not have any Articulation Agreement with any educational institution.”
     I can find no accreditation info about AHC. The AHC website doesn't mention accreditation. (I typed "accreditation" into their search engine and that yielded nothing.)
     Here’s AHC’s mission statement:
American Heritage College shall strive to provide the best training to individuals looking for an alternative to the traditional educational system; acquire the necessary skills to obtain employment in their chosen field or achieve their educational goals and realize their hopes and aspirations for a rewarding future. [My emphasis.]
     It all looks pretty half-assed.
     Here’s one of AHS/SA’s videos:


   
     More curious factoids. "American Heritage College" is trademarked. The owner of the trademark is 247 Classrooms LLC. 247's address is "abdi@studyamerica.me, 2445 West Chapman Avenue; Suite 260, Orange, CA 92868." (See Trademark File.) "abdi" is, of course, AHC CEO Lajevardi's given name. The street address (campus location) is also the (Chapman Ave.) address of American Harbor College, another small-time for-profit. (When I press the link to the "PHT [phlebotomy technician] fact sheet," I get instead the data for Harbor Career College, which is quite plainly located in Los Angeles. I don't get it.)
     The latter (AHC) seems to have three employees. (Under "instructors," only one person is identified, at least for ESL instruction.)
     Such organizations—and, of course, the much larger for-profits such as the U of Phoenix—are notorious for exploiting clueless young people, who take these schools' pricey (and often inferior or worthless) courses. These for-profits help students to secure loans guaranteed by the government—loans that, when taken to pay for inferior for-profit education, experience very high default rates. This means that the taxpayer foots the bill for such institutions' incompetent instruction and profit-making.
     Natch, Republicans have worked hard to protect this gravy train for years, but, in recent years, the Obama administration has made inroads in an effort to rein in these excesses.

THE MYSTERIOUS MR. LAJEVARDI

     *Curiously, Mr. Abdi Lajevardi, the CEO of both SA and AHC, is also the CEO of the business consulting firm “Pro Education Group” (the address of which is “2445 W Chapman Ave # 200” in Orange). According to one source, PEG has a staff of one. It is, according to another source, "FTB suspended" (i.e., it is suspended by the tax board for failure to meet tax requirements).
     Evidently, Lajevardi, a consistent donor to the Republican Party, was a co-founder, in the early 80s, of the International Education Corporation, the latter being the owner (I think) of UEI (see), but Lajevardi is no longer affiliated with it or UEI. (At any rate, his name cannot be found on IEC's website.)
     Further, Lajevardi is associated with the now apparently defunct MyAmericanEnglish.com. I think it was some kind of software available online. No longer.
     Mr. Lajevardi is also the CEO of something called 24-7 Classroom (see Catalog), another dodgy-and/or-defunct for-profit, this time located on 4th Street in Santa Ana. It specializes (specialized?) in ESL, business, and nursing. (Bill Vega, this time, is listed as President.) Its school performance fact sheet suggests that it has precious few students, a handful at most. (24-7 Classroom is not to be confused with Classroom 24-7, which seems viable.)
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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Egads.

Anonymous said...

I would not be surprised if this is some sort of subterfuge for applying for government money--grants, etc.--that will then disappear into the ozone.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like "Trump University"

Anonymous said...

Pretenders

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