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Mountain State University Accreditation Class Action Lawsuit

By Sarah Pierce


Mountan State University lawsuitMountain State University in West Virginia has been hit with a class action lawsuit and 56 individual lawsuits by nursing students who claim the university concealed its accreditation problems since 2008, leaving students with “worthless” degrees.

According to the Mountain State University class action lawsuit, students “were banking on leaving the school with an accredited degree in hand,” but were left holding nothing more than considerable student loan debt after the school lost its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) this year.

“The accreditation is a third-party stamp of approval that ensures universities or programs are meeting a minimum set of national standards. If a university loses its primary accreditation, any subsequent degrees conferred by the university are effectively worthless,” the Mountain State University class action lawsuit states.

Losing accreditation “is a very rare circumstance,” according to an HLC spokesman, and MSU is the first higher education institution in West Virginia history to have its school-wide accreditation revokes, the class action lawsuit says.

In 2010, MSU’s nursing school accreditation was revoked for various reasons, which the HLC took note of, saying the problems at the MSU nursing problem “were emblematic of larger breakdowns at the school,” the class action lawsuit says. The HLC then placed MSU on “show cause” status in June 2011, citing the school for its top-down leadership, lack of long-term planning, failure to collaborate with faculty, failure to give information to students, and the loss of specialized accreditation for the nursing program.

The HLC gave MSU one year to make big fixes at the school or risk losing its accreditation altogether, but “after a long, drawn out process of embarrassing events featuring [former MSU president] Charles Polk,” which included the revelation that Polk had a salary of more than $1.84 million in 2009 – higher than his counterparts at Harvard and Yale – and had used the school’s two private planes on an “excessively high number of occasions,” the HLC came to the conclusion on June 28, 2012 to withdraw MSU’s accreditation, effective on August 27, 2012.

As a result, any classes or degrees from MSU will not be recognized as legitimate, even though students paid for the classes in good faith, believing they would receive an accredited degree.

The MSU class action lawsuit is seeking damages for a proposed class of all West Virginia residents who were enrolled as students of Mountain State University at any time since July 10, 2008 who have not yet received a degree by July 11, 2012 – the date the class action lawsuit was filed.

A copy of the Mountain State University Accreditation Class Action Lawsuit can be read here.

The case is  Dale Burger, et al. v. Mountain State University, Inc., Charles H. Polk and The Mountain State University Board of Trustees, Case No. 12-cv-1293, Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia.


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Updated July 23rd, 2012


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  • houston donald April 18, 2013

    I was in the DMS program when I started this school. I was in the program from 2009-2011. I can no recall the day I got a phone from Ashely Coleman telling I wouldn’t be able to finish the program at this time beside they at MSU working on getting clinicals and I was told that Robert Lilly the director of was to go call me and explain everything to do which he did. He told me change my major and stick it out for about a year which I that’s when everything went down hill. I drop some classes and I was still charge for classes, Than I was told by phone by Tammy Malhon that she was going was going to get things straighten out and that they would have some clinicals sites in my area and she told me also just stay in the business program right and the staff make it look you are business major so you can get aid money, I ask her on the phone who was she told me she graduated with B.S in DMS. There was nothing to worry about I have HUGE QUESTINON IS HOW CAN A SCHOOL GET AID WHEN A PROGRAM ISNT ACCREDIDATED PROGRAM. THIS SCHOOL HAS LEFT 1000″S OF DOLLAR IN DEBT WHICH I HAVE NO CLUDE ON HOW TO PAY THIS MONEY BACK. THE ONLY ADVISOR FOR ONLINE STUDENTS SHELLY WHITE TOLD JUST DROP OUT AND COME BACK IN 2013 AND EVERYTHING WILL BE FIX AND GO BACK INTO THE DMS PROGRAMS AND THE BUSINESS COURSES WILL BE YOUR ELECTIVES, BY PHONE I DO HAVE SOME EMAILS FROM SHELLY WHITE. IF YOU LOOK AT STUDENTS RECORDS FROM AROUND 2010-2011 WHO NEEDED MORE THAN 50+ CREDITS I BET YOU A MILLION DOLLARS THEY WITHDREW FROM THE SCHOOL. THE WAY I SEE IT IS THAT MSU OWES ALOT PEOPLE ALOT MONEY THANK GOD I FOUND SCHOOL TO STAND BY ME INTO GETTING TO GRAD SCHOOL. SORRY FOR THE TYPEO’S AND THE GRAMMAR BUT THIS MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL KNOWING I HAVE DEBT THAT WILL NEVER GET PAID FOR GOING TO SCHOOL OF LIARS. I KNOW THE DMS B.S PROGRAM WAS NOT ACCREDIT PROGRAM.

    • Jenny December 30, 2013

      Was was also a former DMS student at MSU. I cave been in contact with a few attorneys regarding the class action lawsuit. If you could please give me a call I would appreciate it. My name is Jenny 513 417 9981

  • Jamie Vaughan October 7, 2014

    Is this the mountain state college in parkersburg wv?

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