For-Profit Hussian College Is Shutting Down
On June 12, Hussian College, a for-profit school with campuses in four states, said that it plans to shut down. According to the website of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Hussian announced that it “cannot continue to operate except to complete instruction for students in the internship or clinical portions of their programs. Thereafter, it is expected that the institution will wind down and eventually cease all operations.”
The closure announcement came two weeks after Hussian informed faculty, staff, and students that the school’s board of directors had terminated the school’s CEO, Jeremiah Staropoli, because the board had “lost confidence in his leadership.”
We obtained an email to employees from the school’s new CEO, Joshua Figuli, the son of Hussian chairman David Figuli, sent late on the evening of Friday May 26. Figuli wrote that “Hussian cannot continue as it has,” and announced that many staff would be laid off.
Figuli wrote that he was communicating “with a heavy heart and immense frustration.” He continued, “The past couple of weeks have been a gut-wrenching process of discovery for us. We have had to gain an understanding of the state of the College, and it has been shockingly revealing to say the least.” He added that “the lingering effects of COVID on the industry and our institution coupled with the exacerbating effects of unfortunate decisions by former management have left Hussian in an untenable circumstance.”
Figuli said Hussian would go on an unscheduled “summer break” from May 29 through June 11 and that classes would resume June 12 “to allow us time to solidify our teach-out and transition plans.” Teach-outs are plans for a school that is closing to find new schools where students can transfer and complete their studies.
A separate email from Joshua Figuli to Hussian students three days later noted that Staropoli was gone and said that, since his departure, the board of directors had “reviewed the operations of the College, including its financial status, and came to the realization that hard decisions needed to be made.” The email to students announced the summer break but described the school’s future plans differently: “Instruction will resume Monday June 12th, 2023. The purpose of this summer break is to ensure that the plan of reorganization is thoughtfully crafted and responsibly implemented. Hussian College staff are working as quickly as possible to complete a plan that will allow us to best serve your interests in light of current circumstances.” There was no mention of the school closing or the need for a teach out plan.
On Sunday, June 11, Figuli wrote students again, letting them know that Hussian “has determined that it cannot continue to operate your program directly, with limited exceptions for students in certain courses near the end of the program.” He informed students that Hussian was trying to find “partner institutions” where students can continue their studies.
Hussian has offered programs in business, information technology, criminal justice, health sciences, and the arts.
The Hussian website at this point gives no indication that the school is closing or otherwise in trouble. If you request information about the school, you get a congratulatory message:
In November 2018, Hussian College took over for-profit Daymar College, a school that had in 2015 agreed to a $12.4 million settlement to end a lawsuit, alleging deceptive practices, brought by Kentucky’s attorney general.
With the remaining Daymar campuses converted to Hussian schools, Hussian had campuses in Tennessee, Ohio, California, and Pennsylvania, plus online programs.
In June 2022, accrediting agency ACCSC, the gatekeeper for the schools’ eligibility for federal student grants and loans, had put all the Hussian and Daymar campuses on system-wide warning, citing concerns about student achievement at the schools. But ACCSC removed the warning and renewed Hussian’s accreditation in December 2022.
Hussian staff, students, and parents of students have reached out to me in recent weeks to provide information. They report that Hussian has repeatedly been pressed by vendors for failure to pay its bills, that students have not been receiving federal aid disbursements in a timely manner, and that Hussian actually enrolled new students this month, despite the imminent shutdown.
I will be speaking to more members of the Hussian community in the coming days, will try to reach Hussian management and Staropoli for comment, and will aim to do more reporting about the school’s situation, including the circumstances of Staropoli’s departure. (Email us at [email protected].)
Hussian also has a connection to Colbeck Capital Management, operators of campuses of the Art Institutes and South University that were acquired in the wake of the collapse of Dream Center Education Holdings.
Republic Report has now spoken with more than 15 former Hussian students, parents, staff, and vendors who say the school owes them money. The U.S. Department of Education still has not posted an information page for students. It needs to do so — and to investigate where all the money went.
U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet dated 07-31-23, School Closure Hussian College
Pennsylvania Department of Education web page posted 08-01-23, Hussian College Closure
Philadelphia Inquirer, “A 77-year-old Philadelphia art school closed suddenly after several years of expansion under a for-profit company” 08-08-23