As a former White House Chef and former member of the inspection accreditation team for the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC) at Mountain State University (MSU) in 2009 I found three major violations of the ACFEFAC re-accreditation process. I had been evaluating colleges and universities for many, many years, worldwide.
My visit to Mountain State University and the culinary program (for possible re-accreditation) was with a team of professionals. I alone raised deep seated complaints and offered warnings about the sham of a program being run at the university in its broadest forms touching all programs to later include - from over 200 current lawsuits - accusations of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and breach of contract claims, deliberate misuse of power, mail and wire fraud regarding accreditation status, unprofessional conduct that violated professional standards of accreditation, violation of the ACFEFAC standards for accreditation on numerous issues (of which my reports confirmed by industry interviews in Beckley, WV were squelched by staff at MSU) resulting in only one ACFEFAC violation being recognized after my intense and great urging as a professional, true to the ACF, unwavering and unwilling to relent to lowering the ACF standards.
The seated team with me was made up of James Taylor from Columbus State Community College and Glenn Mack from Le Cordon Bleu College. They agreed on the one violation which caused the University to be delayed in being reaccredited sending MSU staff into a fury at the final review meeting. A lady recently accused of intimidation and threats at our final meeting was formerly very high up at MSU, Ms. Roslyn Artis. She sneered and snickered during the meeting and subliminally acted as if her raw power of being an attorney was more than anyone could ever overcome. It was obvious to everyone in the room – that I was pushing for MSU to be stripped of accreditation by the ACF (I formerly was a long term member with ACF, powerful advocate of the Chef and Child Foundation, Chapter Chef of the Year, Chapter President and Chairman, and have since decided not to support or be a member). There was no doubt in anyone’s mind.
Due to not being reaccredited, lies were submitted about myself in retaliation and others were encouraged to write letters of falsehood to save the culinary program and to save the university. I was offered no due process by the ACF or MSU to even know I had ever been falsely accused, offered no recourse to reply to any accusations and no fair rebuttal. In short, the lady in charge of all accreditation worldwide for the ACF (Ms. Candice Childers) acted in collusion with MSU to shore up the ACFEFAC program status and keep the ACF looking good on paper, to the accreditation bodies that control the ACFEFAC and to appease MSU. MSU threatened the ACF and ACFEFAC verbally and strongly - telephonically and in writing. The verbal threats about accreditation spanned tacit implications and ambiguity worldwide to ruin the ACF and possibly in academia, that the former President who has now been fired (and the entire university closed), Doctor Charles H. Polk or the entire board of Doctors and professionals at MSU’s Board of Directors could encourage the removal of institutes, colleges and universities from using the ACF for accreditation any longer.
This was the worst culinary program I had ever seen, worldwide. Additionally, the boasts of Doctor Polk in the news about renaming the culinary program to “National Institute for Culinary Arts” were grotesque. I found the name on the wall in silver letters and banners to be a sham and rip-off of tacit implication that somehow this university embodied our country - or represented culinary instruction nationwide. The leading Executive Chef in charge, Leonard Bailey, was not a good teacher and did not professionally represent the school well. His negative diatribe about Southerners, and local folk, were insulting to me for over an hour drive to the school after picking me up at the airport, and during my entire inspection. My family settled in the south in 1709 and built this region of the country with their backs and have fought in every major war in American history. I myself served for 21 years in the US Navy and am a highly decorated veteran holding the Presidential Service Badge with a former Top Secret clearance to the White House Military Office. I am now the Senior Curator of the Presidential Culinary Museum and Presidential Service Center. I did not take kindly to his negative comments about my own walking barefoot or in wearing bib overalls to work in my own garden.
As you now well know, the entire university has been stripped of its accreditation, closed and become the subject of all the things I intimated during the ACFEFAC team inspection of the property. These include accusations of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and breach of contract claims, deliberate misuse of power, mail and wire fraud regarding accreditation status and unprofessional conduct that violated professional standards of accreditation. Tens of thousands of students have been affected whom paid tuition and supported the highest and most outrageous remuneration structure of a university President - in American history. He was the sixth highest-paid private university president in 2009, according to a report released Dec. 5 in the Chronicle of Higher Education. MSU allocated 3.5 percent of its budget to President Charles H. Polk's annual salary, according to the report. His salary in 2009 was $1,843,764, which is more than the presidents of the more prestigious Yale University and Swathmore College earned that year. It was very evident what was going on, TO ANY INSPECTOR. My own personal findings at MSU additionally angered staff especially at the lackluster library, after student interviews and during the investigatory phase of industry experiential reform and industry involvement – key components of the ACFEFAC required structure to maintain accreditation.
MSU Staff lied and defamed me to smash and crush my complaints and strong concerns. Additionally, I broached the subject of, “if they were this shoddy in the culinary program and live cookery testing I witnessed and reviewed – how bad off were all other programs?” No one at MSU or the ACF or ACFEFAC wanted to get involved – they just figured they could squash my complaints and quietly reacredit the university. A VERY FAMILIAR ploy reported continually now - in court, by anyone who dared to go up against MSU's Board and the raw power of President Polk - to try and hold on to accreditations for the Law Enforcement Program, Nursing Programs and Culinary Programs - any way he and MSU could.
FOR THE HUNDREDS OF STUDENTS INVOLVED IN SUING MSU: I would therefore like to make you aware of these facts and have already made myself available for testimony, deposition or subpoena needs and am working with many of your attorneys. I have been working on your case since 2009. It has been a long couple of years in the background, maintaining silence. I also would like to formally offer free tuition to any former culinary student with MSU for our institute here as what has happened to you, and the students in many other programs, is horrific in filth and lies.