Quote of the Day

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rachel DeMille Responds

In response to both my request to point out any misstated facts in DeMille's Wikipedia article and my comments on the bookstore, Rachel DeMille* gave the following response in the Daily Herald forum:

I'd be happy to--and I will, but I'm limited on time this week. Being a wife, mom of 8 and a budding entrepreneur ;-) keeps me a little busy...

Meanwhile, I wanted to respond to the concerns you raised about the bookstore itself, since that's the main gist of this article anyway, and it's a pretty simple explanation.

My partner Daniela Larsen originally had intended to purchase Classic Books from its previous owner, Dana Chamberlain. Dana, who is a really great friend of mine for more than 10 years, fell to ill health, and over the course of the last three years the health of the business followed suit. By the time Daniela took over operations for her late last year, the relationships with the vendors were in such a poor state that the store owed more to its creditors than it was worth as a business, so Daniela informed Dana that she couldn't purchase the business, but would do her best to honor the outstanding customer orders. As Dana's Classic Books had also been the retail fulfillment for George Wythe College Bookstore, and as the customer base of both these businesses is virtually the same as the one we target, we had an interest in taking up those customer relationships as well as trying to salvage a good reputation for two entities with which we would inevitably be identified.

Perhaps it was not good sense--it has been a real struggle to start a business while trying to give a soft landing to two other stores which were ceasing operations, but there it is. We have been so gratified by the patience, good will and gestures of support by the customers who've had a rough time of it in the transition, and we look forward to living up to their high expectations.

As for the listing with the BBB, it obviously should be changed. It is a reflection of original intentions, and has not been updated to the current state of affairs. As I said, I'm sort of new to this, and it was off my radar. I appreciate you making mention of it.

Hope this helps.


I invited her to post the feedback here at this blog.

*I assume this is the real Rachel DeMille, wife of Oliver

Monday, March 23, 2009

Classic Books and Gifts

Let me preface this post by making clear that I love the classics. This speech expresses my sentiments exactly.

A new bookstore has opened in Lehi, Utah. It is called Classic Books and Gifts. This is not just any bookstore, for it is co-owned by none other than Oliver DeMille. It will soon begin hosting classes for George Wythe University, as well as other classes and seminars associated with DeMille's "Thomas Jefferson" education (TJEd).

According to this person, there was a Classic Books in Cedar City that folded in December 2008. I assume that store was one in the same with Classic Books, Inc., owned by one Dana S. Chamberlain (Utah Dept of Commerce website).

The new entity, an LLC registered under Daniela Larsen, is apparently honoring unfulfilled (yet paid for?) orders to the Cedar City store. Why the magnanimous gesture? I don't know.

When I commented on the Provo Daily Herald profile article on the Lehi store one full day after it ran (and left a link to this blog), a flood of newly-registered users suddenly commented on how wonderful the store was.

Here's the breakdown: I made my first comment 22 hours ago. Then today between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm Utah time, six comments from different newly-registered users popped in (all in defense of TJEd). Hmm.

In any case, this whole article raises the question whether DeMille has relocated to Lehi. Now that he is no longer president or even "chancellor" of GW, maybe there's no need to stick around (especially since GW will be transforming into a correspondence school like DeMille's alma mater, Coral Ridge Baptist University).

If that is the case, it is our responsibility to get the facts about GW and TJEd out to the good people of Lehi and northern Utah County so unsuspecting people don't get sucked into this and separated from their money, like my relative did.

UPDATE: This is incredible. I checked the Better Business Bureau, and the profile for the Cedar City store has been updated with the address of this "new" Lehi store. Not only that, but Ms. Dana Chamberlain (registered agent for the Cedar City store) is listed as the president and customer contact.

There's more. The store has a DBA designation to do business as, drum roll, George Wythe College Bookstore! So much for this posting claiming the two bookstores are completely separate, including the claim that "we [at Classic Books and Gifts] are still seeking to honor all those orders from the old store as a good will gesture."

This is yet another example of the sleight of hand, exaggeration, and half-truth approach that to me appears to saturate George Wythe College / University and Thomas Jefferson Education. Judge for yourself my friends.

UPDATE: I have received a response from Rachel DeMille on this. See the next post.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American Heritage Academy

On March 8, 2009, the Arizona Republic reported that Prescott teacher Emili Kay Daniels had been arrested after the school principal found her and a 17-year-old student in a compromising situation.

It turns out she and the student had at least three sexual encounters on campus. You can find more on this story here, here, here, and here.

The school where this took place is the American Heritage Academy, a charter school co-founded and run by GW alumna and trustee Vicki Jo Anderson.

Shanon Brooks used to work at American Heritage, and Troy Henke, who set up the mathematics program at GW, taught there right after graduating from GW. He went on to found the Idaho Leadership Academy, whose subsequent charter battle inspired Richard Stout's "Diploma DeMille" piece.

Obviously, what happened does not reflect on GW. But I think the connections between American Heritage Academy and George Wythe College are at least tangentially interesting.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Andrew Groft

UPDATE: We now know a little more about Mr. Groft. See new post. /UPDATE

Here is what I know about Andrew Groft, based on the official GW bio and what I have garnered from various other sources (all linked below):

Groft was likely born in 1972. He was a representative of the Goodman Family Singers in the mid-1990s, around the time he first joined GW as a "student-mentor."

His doctorate in education is from George Wythe College, although the official bio does not mention that. GW awarded him the degree in 2001, and it currently falls in the list of degrees no longer offered by the school.

The bio calls him a "founder" of George Wythe College, although he wasn't around in 1991 or 1992 when Doughty, DeMille, and Sills started the school as part of the Meadeau View Institute. (Incidentally, DeMille is still listed as "the founder" in his own bio.)

According to Shanon Brooks, Groft left GW in the 1990s to become an executive for an unnamed "large financial services firm." After becoming a board member of this firm, in 1999 Groft returned to GW. In 2000 he was named provost.

By 2003, he was an ASL instructor at Southern Utah University. He is faculty advisor for the GW chapter of College Republicans, and will lead a tour of Western Europe for a group of GW students in June.

Groft "place[s] George Wythe College and its programs at no less than the forefront of a new 'Renaissance of Kings', with the ability to transform society and the world."

He uses this term, Renaissance of Kings, frequently. It stems from a 2006 graduation speech he gave for GW. According to the 12/15/08 GWU Hour, when writing this address he set out to create something profound. (I have read the document and it has no references or footnotes. It does not cite one source.)

In August 2008, he was named president of the Cedar City campus in conjunction with the Monticello Campus groundbreaking.

The press release I posted earlier is the first announcement of Groft's ascension to the presidency of all of George Wythe. I have yet to find any mention of this press release anywhere. However, as of today Groft's official bio has been updated to reflect his new role.

Finally, here is a video of Groft conducting class at GW. :)

(Lightsaber Duel) A Day In Class At GWC... - Funny video clips are a click away

Leadership Changes, Again

Just a quick note on a recent press release (although I don't know if it has been "released" yet) from George Wythe University. It is dated March 3, 2009, and states that Oliver DeMille and Shanon Brooks will no longer be Chancellor and President, respectively, of GW. Andrew Groft will be the new president, and the Chancellor position is no more.

I still can't find any web mention of this press release, nor do I find it in any news searches. Therefore, I will be the first to give this release a web presence by including it below:

March 3, 2009

George Wythe University Restructures to Expand Its Reach in the Information Age

CEDAR CITY, UTAH - The George Wythe Foundation Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday to restructure the operations and administration of George Wythe University to a more efficient model designed to expand its impact in the Information Age.

The Board's strategic plan involves dramatically enriching and expanding off-campus programs with live internet teleconferencing, delivering a virtual classroom experience anywhere in the world. This will significantly reduce costs for students living away from the Cedar City campus, while on-campus and extension programs will remain for those who prefer traditional classes.

"Technological advances are transforming the way we interact and revolutionizing education across the globe," said university founder Oliver DeMille. "Our mission of building statesmen is no longer restricted by geographic boundaries. This is a very exciting time for us."

DeMille cited the need for greater efficiency in the current economy as the reason for the change. Since the move toward virtual classrooms places greater focus on teaching while reducing administrative needs, the organizational model was streamlined accordingly.

In place of the previous chancellor model with separate administrative and academic heads, the university now designates a single president as both top administrator and academician. This position will be filled by Andrew Groft, former Provost and President of the Cedar City Campus. DeMille will continue as Vice Chair of the Board, and will offer his leadership more extensively in academics by focusing on teaching while directing the masters and doctoral programs. Shanon Brooks has accepted a Board assignment to lead efforts in recruiting and Resource Development, departments critical to the university's success during the economic downturn. He will also oversee campus development beyond Cedar City.

"With the current economic crisis arriving in the Information Age, we're fortunate to be agile enough to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities," said Board Chair Diann Jeppson. "A robust online program in addition to a tighter, leaner administration will be critical in allowing GWU to rise to the forefront and lead out in the new frontier. We plan to be on the cutting edge."

Brooks' enthusiasm for expanding the reach of the school was clear. "While the world goes high-tech, attracting donors, supporters and students will always remain a high-touch process."

Jeppson agreed, "Shanon's role as an ambassador will be more essential to our mission than ever before. We'll reach into places we didn't think we'd touch for decades."

"I'm surprised how quickly we've been able to adapt to the times as a team," said Groft. I'm especially grateful to be working with so many committed and talented people who sacrifice so much."

DeMille was particularly excited about the new direction of the university. "Andy has proven his commitment and leadership ability. He is taking GWU in positive new directions and will continue to make changes that are needed while preserving the university's core mission. His vision and creation of the emerging online programs will unleash the potential for truly global educational leadership, and will greatly improve the university's purpose, focus and direction into the months and years ahead."

The efficiency of the new model is expected to result in cost savings that can be passed on to students. Details on the new course offerings and their pricing will be announced in the upcoming weeks.