By Jada Butler and Jeremy Kramer
Editor-In-Chief, Staff Writer
Mercy College filed a lawsuit in the Westchester Supreme Court against Long Island University and Edward Weis, LIU’s new Vice President of Academic Affairs, on August 13.
In the complaint, Mercy College claims that Weis and LIU committed a “breach of the duty of loyalty, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, tortious interference with contract, misappropriation of confidential and proprietary information, unfair competition and injunctive relief,” resulting in damages of $700,000 to Mercy College in scholarship money and other expenses. Weis and LIU have denied the allegations in the lawsuit.
LIU’s president Kimberly Cline was president of Mercy College from 2008 to 2013, prior to joining LIU in July 2013.
Weis, who left Mercy in May and joined LIU in June, is accused in the complaint of using his connections while he was dean of the Mercy College School of Business to forward information to promising first-year students of Mercy College and students involved in Mercy’s summer program to encourage them to attend LIU Post instead.
“This lawsuit is without merit, and we will address the facts in court,” Jon Schneider, who was LIU’s director of public relations until August and now works as an outside spokesman for LIU, said in an email. Schneider responded to inquiries on behalf of Weis, Cline and university counsel, Michael Best. Best, Weis and Cline did not directly respond to the Pioneer’s inquiries about the lawsuit.
“While we will not litigate the case in the media, we can say that LIU is very proud that our business school is ranked by the Princeton Review as one of the region’s top business schools and is one of just five percent of schools in the nation accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. With world-class faculty and experiential learning opportunities, we have very high demand from top students throughout our region and the country,” Schneider said.
Schneider added that the university does not expect that this litigation will have any impact on LIU students or faculty.
Mercy College compiles information about prospective students, including SAT scores and high school GPA on a spreadsheet which is used to extend offers of admission to students. Mercy claims in the lawsuit that Weis emailed this spreadsheet to his private email address and contacted those students about attending LIU.
In the complaint, Mercy College alleges that this summer, Chuck Garcia, formerly a professor in Mercy’s Business Honors program, and presently at LIU, “directly solicited two of the registered students on the High SAT list by texting them on their personal cell phones and offering them more scholarship money to attend LIU…” Mercy claims that Garcia would not have access to confidential information without disclosure by Weis. Garcia did not respond to the Pioneer’s inquiries.
As of May 1, 42 students were registered and accepted into Mercy’s Business Honors program. In the suit, Mercy said by July 20, nine students notified the university of their switch to Long Island University.
According to Mercy, a single student not enrolled in the University costs around $32,252. This sum includes tuition, registration, board and meal plans per year. Mercy claims that the loss of these students has extra weight as they were not just part of the Honors College, but also had stellar SAT scores and academic records.