'Diploma mill' now in Europe after Hawaii stint
The American University of Hawaii illegally offered law and medical degrees
A "diploma mill" shut down on Maui by a state court last year has opened under a new name and with new accreditation in Eastern Europe, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on its Web site yesterday.
American University of Hawaii was ordered closed in January 2005 by Circuit Judge Shackley Raffetto after the state Office of Consumer Protection complained that it was illegally offering degrees in law and medicine.
Last May, the court ruled the institution's founder, Hassan Safavi, in contempt for failing to pay $500,000 in civil penalties and neglecting to notify students and graduates that he would fully reimburse their tuition.
It is unclear how many Hawaii students were affected.
The state claimed that rather than shut down as ordered, Safavi continued operations overseas and created a new corporation by the same name in Mississippi.
The Chronicle reported yesterday that Safavi is now running the American University for Humanities, with a campus in Tbilisi, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
The Web sites for the American University of Hawaii and American University for Humanities are both registered to Safavi, a British citizen born in Iran who lives in the Los Angeles area, the publication said.
Despite that connection, the European institution won accreditation from the American Academy for Liberal Education.
An advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Education recommended last year that the department suspend its recognition of the American Academy for Liberal Education because of a "lackadaisical" approach to educational requirements, the Chronicle said.