December 3, 2023

Diving overview:

  • California officials have accused Olivet University — an evangelical institution under federal investigation for suspected money laundering, visa fraud and other crimes — of violating several state education regulations, foreshadowing its potential closure.
  • Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a complaint earlier this month on behalf of the California Authority for Private Postsecondary Education. It is asking the California Department of Consumer Affairs to suspend or revoke Olivet’s license to operate because state officials found the college lacked certain advertised courses, resources to ensure a quality education and properly trained faculty.
  • Olivet is also facing scrutiny from its accreditor, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, or ABHE. The institution did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Diving statistics:

Olivet was founded in 2000 by David Jang, its inaugural president and a well-known Korean-American pastor. It has campuses in several states, but its main one is in Anza, California.

The university has long struggled with legal and regulatory issues. The private, nonprofit institution gained national notoriety in 2018 when then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the allegations against the collegewhich was formerly based in New York, and several of its top officials who alleged money laundering.

Two years later, Olivet pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and falsifying records and was ordered to pay $1.25 million in forfeiture over two years.

Then in 2022 Olivet reportedly got down federal investigation, again for money laundering, but also visa fraud and human and labor trafficking. Later that year, New York gained Olivet’s authority grant college credit and eventually close its two campuses in that state.

It is now listed on the university’s website as operating locations in California, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida and Washington, DC

Olivet is not approved for state or federal aid.

Recently, in November, ABHE evaluated Olivet’s accreditation and warned that the school was only “marginally compliant” with the organization’s standards in areas such as financial integrity and compliance with legal and governmental regulations.

If Olivet did not correct its operations, its accreditation could be revoked, ABHE said.

Now, California leaders are seeking to end Olivet’s approval to operate in the state. Civil servants already fined Olivet $5,000 in 2020 for various violations, including failing to accurately report student placement rates in one of its degree programs.

In November and January, California regulators made surprise visits to Olivet campuses, according to the attorney general’s complaint. They said they discovered several violations. For example, Olivet failed to properly monitor its faculty, leading to problems such as instructors having contracts but no assigned courses or no contract at all.

Regulators also said Olivet did not offer adequate courses to support students enrolled in Chinese or Korean language programs. And in two of the three class sessions that state officials observed during their visit to the main campus, professors live-streamed their lectures via Zoom to students in the classroom. That violates the state’s rule on personal instruction in this type of setting, the attorney general said.

State officials also want Olivet to pay the costs of investigating and enforcing the case.

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