Olivet University can no longer operate its Christian college in Dover, following what a public education official called a “pattern of mismanagement of the institution’s finances” that included criminal activity.
However, the Olivet Organization, which also runs its Olivet World Assembly network of evangelical and para-churches out of Dover, says it has other plans for the Dutchess County campus.
A statement from the university on its website says the Dover property “will be used more than ever to serve evangelicals around the world, with a variety of facilities and uses contemplated.”
These potential uses include “a space for the global evangelical community, a technology park and center for Christian innovation, a hospital serving the missionary community, a ‘business as mission’ center, a sports center and an evangelical-themed museum. , and a complex entertainment center, among others,” the statement said.
In a June 30 letter to the president of the university in California, New York State Department of Education Deputy Commissioner William P. Murphy said he confirmed the department’s recommendation. of Education on the state board of trustees not to renew the college’s operating license, which expired on July 2.
“Evidence (including tax liens, civil lawsuits for failure to meet contractual payment terms, failure to pay workers’ compensation insurance, and the criminal case in which Olivet pleaded guilty to tampering with business and conspiracy documents)” showed a pattern, Murphy wrote.
The Department of Education found that the majority of lawsuits against the school were brought about by Olivet for allegedly defaulting on contractual payment terms. There have been instances where Olivet has settled cases but again defaulted on the settlement agreement, Murphy wrote.
The university said in a separate statement in response to inquiries that it “is disappointed with the New York State Department of Education’s decision to deny renewal of Olivet’s authority to operate its New York campus. As the university weighs its legal options with respect to this ruling, Olivet is complying and notifying its students and constituents of the outcome and its impact.”
The school moved out of the Binghamton area and officially opened in Dover at the former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in 2016, according to its site. In 2018, the university and some of its top officials were charged in a money laundering scheme, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The defendants were accused of fraudulently obtaining millions in funding under the Olivet name and laundering the money.
The school was fined $1.25 million after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy and tampering with records in 2020. However, many school officials in charge at the time of that business, including then-president Tracy Davis and Barnabas Jung, who never lost the role of chief financial officer, remain in senior positions, Murphy noted. He called the school’s problems “widespread and pervasive” in the letter.
“During the review, NYSED found that Olivet had a well-established pattern of non-compliance with laws, rules, and regulations. Olivet vis-à-vis its administrative responsibilities has been around for a long time,” Murphy wrote.
The organization was founded by David Jang in San Francisco in 2000.
“These failings are part of a larger pattern of mismanagement and solving these problems only after being caught up in a criminal conspiracy does not render them useless,” Murphy wrote.
In addition to the problems within the school, the Environmental Protection Agency previously sued Dover Greens, an Olivet System company, claiming it violated the Clean Air Act and EPA national emissions standards for asbestos during renovations to the psychiatric center in 2013 and 2014. the company agreed to accept responsibility for the violations and pay a $575,000 fine in January 2000.
In the statement on its website, the university did not address the various reasons Murphy gave for the state closing the college.
Olivet’s statement says the university “ended a good 10-year run in New York State with the conclusion of our temporary license to operate by the New York Board of Regents.”
The university “has always envisioned multiple uses for our Dover site beyond the school itself, in keeping with the founding purpose of our flagship school and seminary to be an ‘incubator for mission’.
Olivet “will refrain from offering credit courses at this time”, intending to seek to open an accredited institution “at the right time and in the right place in New York”.
Michael P. McKinney is a breaking news reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal, The Journal News and the Times Herald-Record in Middletown.