A Tamuning institution offering advanced business degrees on Guam is suing the University of Guam.
NezPac is taking the president of the University of Guam and others to court for allegedly trying to stop it from doing business which would be in direct competition with the university.
NezPac College Inc. a Tamuning-based affiliate of Troy University of Troy Ala. on Sept. 21 advertised that it would be offering an executive master’s of business administration program on Guam.
That same day Harold L. Allen president of the University of Guam wrote to Troy Jack Hawkins Jr. chancellor of Troy University The letter alleged that under Guam law (17 GCA Chapter 44 Section 44 subsection 44104) all-post secondary schools offering educational services must apply for authorization to the Guam Accreditation Board to grant degrees or diplomas.
The Guam Accreditation Board Allen said consisted of the board of regents of the university and the board of trustees of the Guam Community College. He said to his knowledge no request for nor board authorization had been given to NezPac College.
The letter said “Upon submission of your application the accreditation board will perform a comprehensive review of the academic integrity of your programs as supported by the legislative intent of the law. Until such time as Troy University in affiliation with NexPac College is granted approval by the accreditation board it has no authorization under Guam law to offer its executive MBA or MBA degree programs on Guam.”
Ronald H. Leach executive vice president of Bank of Hawaii was copied on the letter in his capacity as chairman of the board of regents of the university Nededog and Zhao.
NezPac College Inc. is the brainchild of Jose T. Nededog former president of the university and Mark Y. Zhao chairman of the board of trustees for NezPac and executive director for WestPac Institute of Management.
NezPac filed suit Nov. 15 requesting damages and a restraining order against Allen the board of regents of the university and the board of trustees of the college. NezPac contended in the suit that the Guam Accreditation Board does not exist because it was abolished by the legislature — therefore it does not need accreditation.
Nededog wrote to Troy that NezPac did not need the approval of the Guam accreditation board and noted that the University of Portland offered degree programs on Guam but did not go through a review process.
NezPac contended it was duly licensed under the laws of Guam and engaged in the business of providing educational instructional services including programs leading to the acquisition of post-secondary degrees. Troy University is not a party in the action.
Court documents stated that in August 2004 NezPac entered into an agreement with Troy University to provide instruction on Guam. Documents further stated that NezPac was "in the business of enabling students studying in Guam to acquire advanced degrees including a master’s in business administration and a executive MBA. NexPac began advertising this affiliation and degree programs in September 2004."
NezPac contended all degrees are comparable to and will compete with programs offered by the University of Guam.
Ron Moroni a principal partner in the law firm of Tarpley & Moroni LLP and attorney for NezPac alleged that at the time the cease and desist letter was sent by Allen to his client Allen was fully aware that the Guam Accreditation Board did not exist that the Guam Accreditation Board had never met and further that Public Law 26-76 had abolished the board.
Moroni claimed Allen’s actions against his client were intentional and unlawful and intended to interfere with NezPac’s contractual business relationship with Troy State University.
He further said that the accreditation board never established criteria for approving or evaluation of academic programs and that it never promulgated procedures for submission or application for entities seeking approval of academic programs.
NezPac also alleged Allen has taken actions to discourage prospective instructors from accepting employment with NezPac and was discouraging students from enrolling in classes with NezPac.
Moroni is claiming damages in an amount that will be proven at trial. He also asked for a restraining order against Allen barring him from continuing to make disparaging remarks against NezPac.
Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Andersen denied that motion at an Ex-Parte hearing held Nov. 29 at the Superior Court of Guam.
In Allen’s answer to the complaint dated Nov. 29 he stated that statements made in his letter to NezPac and Troy University were true and factual and did not misrepresent the law or facts known to him.
He said he called on Sen. Carmen Fernandez regarding NezPac’s obligation under the law to seek authorization from the accreditation board.
Allen also claimed his actions were to ensure the quality and integrity of academic degree programs that serve to benefit post-secondary students on Guam.
Further hearings have not yet been scheduled. Barrett-Andersen told the court that the case would follow normal procedures through the judicial system.
The case had originally been assigned to Superior Court Judge Katherine Maraman. She recused herself to avoid a conflict of interest as she is an adjunct professor at the university.
A letter written by Allen on Oct. 6 to Sen. Carmen Fernandez chairperson of the Committee on Education and Housing of the 27th Guam Legislature and stating to his knowledge the Guam Accreditation Board has not formally met to implement best practices for the review of proposals from private institutions is part of the case file.
Allen wrote in the letter “When Dr. Nededog came to the University in March 2004 and sought my signature on a form that was represented to be an approval form for private institutions to offer academic credit and degrees on Guam I asked the university’s legal counsel to research what was required to gain approval. She reported that the Guam accreditation board could grant approval only following a review. Immediately after our meeting in March I provided Dr. Nededog and Mr. Zhao with the text of the law and stated that the Chairman of the Board of Regents Mr. Ronald Leach was prepared to immediately work with his counterpart at GCC to convene the Guam Accreditation board.” Allen reiterated the importance of a strong Guam-based accreditation process that protects the public good. He wrote “The university and GCC are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges to function within our area and as such we are the only Guam-based institutions qualified to judge the academic merits of programs seeking local accreditation. I believe that any effort to legislate a substitute mechanism for the existing Guam Accreditation Board would only serve to weaken an important peer process that is intended to ensure the quality and integrity of academic degree programs." MBJ