Argosy University-Hawaii's sudden closure leaves students in the lurch
By SUSAN ESSOYAN | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: March 8, 2019
HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — The abrupt shutdown scheduled today for Argosy University- Hawaii will leave about 800 graduate and undergraduate students in the lurch, midway through the semester.
Students and alumni streamed into its downtown office Thursday afternoon to get their records and try to figure out where they could transfer to finish up their degrees.
“I had six more credits until I graduated,” said David Serai, who is working on a degree in business administration. “I’m kind of bummed. I have a lot going on in my life.”
“I have kids, I have two careers, I’m in the military,” he added. “Looking for another school to go to when you’re this close, it’s kind of asking a lot. The task is already time-consuming, and the emotional, mental state as well.”
Argosy Hawaii catered mostly to adult students and offered a variety of degrees in fields such as business, information technology, criminal justice and clinical psychology.
Bonnie Ressler, an M.B.A. student focusing on human resources, said the shutdown came as a surprise despite warnings.
“It was about a month ago we heard Argosy was having some problems,” Ressler said. “We didn’t think that we would be closing. We got an email yesterday at, like, 10 saying we had a potential buyer but to go ahead and order transcripts. And then by 2:30, classes were canceled. It was like, oh — oh, my golly!”
“I was active in school until yesterday,” she added. “If you were in the middle of a term, and we were, we get nothing for it. You can’t get a partial credit.”
Argosy University’s owner, Dream Center Education Holdings LLC, was put into receivership Jan. 18 in U.S. District Court in Ohio after being sued for failing to meet its financial obligations. Judge Dan A. Polster noted that Dream Center and its affiliate, South University of Ohio, had debts topping $100 million.
The receiver for Argosy University filed a motion in court Wednesday seeking an emergency closure of its 22 campuses across the country by today. They include Argosy University- Hawaii and campuses in Hilo and Wailuku.
The university referred media questions to Anne Dean, senior director of communications for Dream Center Education Holdings, but she did not respond to a request for comment by late Thursday.
Richard Robinson, a clinical psychologist who earned his degree at Argosy Hawaii in 2007, stopped by Thursday to make sure his transcript was sent to an agency that banks credentials for future use.
He called the closure a major blow in a state where clinical psychologists are in short supply.
“It’s going to end up having a real negative impact,” he said. “When I was there I think there were 45 in my class, and almost all of them stayed in Hawaii.”
The university held a “transfer fair” Thursday to help students navigate their way forward. Other institutions reaching out to Argosy University students include the University of Hawaii, Chaminade University, Hawaii Pacific University as well as online schools.
UH has created a web page to help Argosy students transfer to its 10 campuses, with contact information for different programs.
“Chances are there is a place for you at UH, and we’d love to have you,” said spokesman Dan Meisenzahl. “And there’s all kinds of scholarship opportunities and need-based financial aid.”
HPU said it aims to be flexible with its transfer credit policy and, given the shortage of clinical psychologists, is coming up with a plan to help students in that program.
“HPU is being urged by accreditors and the Hawaii mental health community to assist and we are actively engaged with all constituents to do so and make the transition as seamless as possible under the circumstances,” the university said in a statement.
Transcripts and financial records may be needed for students to continue their education as well as to obtain financial aid or loan forgiveness. The Hawaii Post-Secondary Education Authorization Program has compiled information for Argosy students online at 808ne.ws/argosystatus.