The founder and dean of a controversial university in Carlsbad held a press conference on Thursday to challenge allegations against the school first brought to light and reported by NBC 7 Investigation.
“The allegations against Aristotle University are ridiculous and unfounded,” said Xanthi Gionis, founder and dean of Aristotle University, at the press conference.
“I serve as the designated school official for Aristotle University and in that capacity have gone through the requisite background checks required by the U.S. government for this critically important responsibility,” said Gionis.
In NBC 7’s original story we revealed that some of the foreign students used their life savings to attend the Carlsbad school, for a Master's Degree in Public Health. They say they attended class once a week for months, with little instruction.
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Through interviews and e-mails, they told NBC 7 their felt their education was worthless.
Aristotle University's website claimed it was licensed by the bureau for private post-secondary and vocational education, through their law school, which they no longer own.
“Aristotle University was in fact accredited and approved by the BPPVE from May 1, 2007 through April 30, 2012,” Gionis said.
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She acknowledged in that statement that the license has expired.
Gionis’ statement all seemed to reference Aristotle Law School.
Our story focused on Aristotle University which provides master's degrees in public health.
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NBC 7 asked Gionis several times by email to answer our questions before our first story aired, she initially responded by saying the school had been sold.
And, when NBC 7 went to the school in person for a response, she closed the door and called police.
On Thursday afternoon, we asked Gionis why she didn’t respond to our earlier inquires.
She answered, “Because it was a little bit comical.”
Gionis also criticized the subject of our story Albert Anarwat, a student from Ghana. He started class at Aristotle last September, but is no longer a student.
"Aristotle University requires class attendance and the U.S. government requires classroom attendance."
Anarwat told NBC 7 he did attend class.
If students are late on their tuition payments, emails from Gionis to students, threaten to take away their visas and have them deported.
Aristotle is certified by the Department of Homeland Security to issue student visas to foreign nationals.
Anarwat said he is standing up for what he believes is right and truthful.
“I know, I have not committed any crime. This is America and we have freedom we should not let someone sit on our rights. We shouldn't let someone intimidate us. I don’t have money to take a lawyer, but I know god is my lawyer,” he said.
Thursday afternoon, NBC 7 was sent a letter by State Senator Mark Wyland, who represents North County's 38th District.
In it, he asks the department of consumer affairs to immediately look into Aristotle University.
Gionis, who is running for state senate in the 40th District said today: "Allegations made against me are clearly politically motivated."