College sued for “stealing” students from another school


When it comes to sportsball players, colleges “steal” star athletes from each other on a regular basis, at least when it’s time to grab incoming freshmen. It’s little different than in professional sports, which often bid for available players. It’s funny to use the word “steal,” of course, but I can certainly understand how people might claim some ownership of a player on the home team.

Colleges have been losing students for years now, and bottom line, each individual student represents a great sum of money for a school. How much? Well, a recent set of accusations provides insight into that, as well as other features of today’s higher educational system:

Cutthroat Admission: College Accused of Stealing Students

Now, this is all just accusations right now, and until the court case is settled the gentle reader should take it as conjecture that anything untoward happened here. I’m fairly confident that the settlement will seal the records and the issue will vanish from the public eye. There are details here which need highlighting now:

Mercy College charges that Long Island University hired one of its deans and he then used confidential information he emailed to himself while still employed to poach students who had accepted admissions offers.

On the face of it, the charge seems quite reasonable. Time and again I’ve seen an administrator come onto campus, and diligently work to sell out everything he can (reputation and educational integrity being towards the top) to get more students. Then the new admin uses his skills at degrading his school to get a better, higher paying, position at another school, where he can find more things to sell out.

It’s a sick, demented system. In times past, the “leaders” of a school were chosen from faculty, people who devoted their lives to the school, but now higher education is run by roving bands of wandering plunderers. So, sure, I can see a Dean doing this. Did he at least get a better job at the new school?

Edward Weis was until May 31 the dean of Mercy’s business school, and Mercy says he had access to all of the information in the spreadsheets, as well as communications between the college and prospective students.

In June, Weis started as vice president of academic affairs at LIU.

Dean Wise held his position for 5 years before moving up to Vice President. That’s hardly a lifetime. So, as I’ve documented many times before, he certainly fits the profile of your typical plundering school administrator.

The allegation here is this Dean, after he moved to the new school, used his insider information to contact students and, basically, give them slightly better offers at the new school. There are supposedly e-mail records to this effect, so it sure doesn’t look good.

Mercy’s suit says that as of May 1, it had 42 new students who had accepted offers to enroll in the business honors program. By July 20, nine of them had notified Mercy that they would enroll instead at LIU. Confidential information about all nine of them was in the material Mercy says it tracked Weis sending from college accounts to his private accounts before he left the college.

So, we’re talking allegedly 9 students here. This is what higher education has come to. Mercy College has over 7,000 students, so we’re talking a bit over 1/10 of 1% of the student base being “meddled with” (to use mainstream media’s latest over-used phrase) is sufficient to bring a lawsuit.

Just how much money is a student’s head worth?

The loss of a single student, considering tuition, fees, room and board, costs Mercy $32,252, the suit says.

So each student is worth over 30 grand a year, hence the lawsuit is for $700,000, at least to start. I really feel the need to highlight that at no point does the lawsuit discuss in any way how (allegedly) offering the students better deals is harmful to the students.

Doing harm, or helping, the students is irrelevant. It’s about the money, and only the money. Again, this is what higher education has come to.

The loss of these students was more damaging, the suit says, because they had high SAT scores and stellar academic records, and many had already participated in Mercy’s summer program.

Wait. These students already knew Mercy well, and still flipped. Those alleged e-mails must be pretty damning to overcome this…I bet they are.

The suit charges that Weis and LIU obtained confidential information to which they were not entitled and then used that information to engage in “unfair competition” with Mercy. The suit says that they acted with “Intentional, malicious and/or wanton disregard” for the rights of Mercy.

Unfair competition? These aren’t athletes, there’s no equivalent to the NCAA for how you can recruit students. I’m a little confused. I’ve seen quality schools “lose” students to other schools because the latter offer “fast, convenient” degrees. Why is that unfair? There’s been a huge race to the bottom in many schools, lowering standards as they “compete” to scrape up still more students—gotta pay for all those Vice Presidents of Higher Education Degradation somehow.

Malicious disregard? Again, I’m confused. I’ve never seen an admin give the slightest regard for anything a school stands for. I sure hope Mercy, in addition to those alleged e-mails, has some serious documentation that the admin they hired (and casually replaced) really cared about the school, and really worked to adhere to standards and integrity.

Good luck with that.

Turns out, there are some written rules about this sort of thing, a Code of Ethics and Professional Practices:

“Colleges will not knowingly recruit or offer enrollment incentives to students who are already enrolled, registered, have declared their intent, or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions. May 1 is the point at which commitments to enroll become final, and colleges must respect that.”

I’ve seen schools repeatedly and extravagantly violate the code of ethics they agree to when they become accredited, at every opportunity where following that code would cost them even a penny of that sweet student loan money. Once again we have a problem: if other written codes of ethics can be violated at will with no penalty, why should this code be worth more than the pixels which glow when you click on the link?

Really, all I’m seeing here is just continuation of the “best practices” and policies which school administrations have been following up to this point. Having looted everything else, this new Vice President should be commended for his (alleged) actions…those 9 students will generate enough revenue to pay his salary and luxurious benefits for at several years.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see more of this in the coming years, and past this point we’ll expect to see admin receive promotions and transfers in exchange for bringing even a handful of students with them to their new school.

This, indeed, is what higher education has become.