University of Atlanta

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University of Atlanta
Established 1991
Type Private, for-profit, distance education
Location Atlanta, GA, U.S.

The University of Atlanta is a private for-profit distance education institution based in Atlanta, Georgia. It is authorized by the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission.[1] Beginning in 2008, it held accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), but its accreditation was terminated in 2013. The university's website lists Nick Mithani as founder and Alex Mithani as co-founder, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman, and Director of International Education and Partnerships.


Operation as Barrington University

The University of Atlanta was founded as Barrington University (not to be confused with Barrington College) in the early 1990s by Robert and Steven Bettinger.[2] By 1995, it was operating out of a Burlington, Vermont, address offering distance-learning degrees. The school lacked state approval. In Vermont, it is a crime for an unaccredited college to offer degrees. In 1995, the state successfully sued and fined Barrington for fraud. The state's investigation revealed that the physical campus was a rented post office box. The school was claiming that its degrees would raise buyers' lifetime earnings by $1 million. Barrington then moved to Mobile, Alabama, offering $4,450 degrees granting considerable credit for life experiences.[3]

Barrington operated as a subsidiary of Boca Raton-based Virtual Academics.[4] The company's literature claimed that its chairman had a doctorate and a masters degree; an investigation showed that he had neither.[5] Barrington also claimed accreditation by the International Association of Universities and Schools Inc. (IAUS). However, a 2003 investigation by the South Florida Business Journal revealed this was a for-profit corporation set up in Florida (not Switzerland or Washington, D.C., as claimed) by Virtual Academics' chairman, Robert Bettinger, and the owner of another for-profit college in 1998. According to the New York Post, they did this to avoid further problems due to their schools' lack of accreditation.[2][5] The IAUS' charter was subsequently dissolved by the State of Florida for failure to pay annual registration fees.[6] The South Florida Business Journal also reported that Barrington was paying professors and schools in China commissions to sell Barrington degrees to Chinese students; this revelation caused a major drop in Chinese enrollments and a resulting decline in revenues.[5][7] Virtual Academics then changed its name to Cenuco and announced its intention to focus on wireless products; according to the South Florida Business Journal, this was due to the adverse publicity associated with the chairman's missing doctorate and the Chinese enrollment problem.[4][7]

The school began having problems with the State of Alabama as early as 2000. The state threatened to revoke its operating license. State investigators determined that Barrington had been operating out of the offices of a secretarial and answering service.[6]

In 2004, Cenuco, still run by the Bettingers, sold the school to Georgia-based Rarefied, LLC, run by Akber Mithani, for $300,000 cash and a $700,000 seller-financed loan.[8] Rarefied continued the school's operation with the same employees in the same location, a 1,500-square-foot (140 m2) office.[8][9] A General Accounting Office investigation found that Barrington was offering degrees for a fee based solely on life experience and requiring no classroom experience.[10] By 2008, the State of Alabama was conducting a crackdown on such schools operating in Alabama, requiring that all be accredited or actively seeking accreditation by October.[10]

Establishment and operation as University of Atlanta

The building in which the University of Atlanta has its office; the sign reads "Iverson Business School"

In 2008, while still operating in Mobile, Barrington changed its name to the University of Atlanta.[10] Students were informed via a forum post that the change of name would be effective from March 15, 2006.[11] The university also received accreditation from the federally recognized Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).[12][13] The DETC noted the school was founded in 1991[12][14] but started in 2006.[15] The school subsequently moved to the Atlanta area.[16] As of February 2012 it was reported to be located in Norcross, Georgia.[17]

In early 2012, the University of Atlanta's accreditor, the DETC, announced that the school had stopped enrolling new students and that its accreditation would expire on June 30, 2013. Until then, the university's DETC accreditation is applicable only to the "teach-out" of current students and the university was reported as no longer accepting new enrollments.[17]

Dubai campus

A branch campus in Dubai, opened in 2008, provides support services for online degree students in the United Arab Emirates and Persian Gulf region.[18][not in citation given] In 2010, the university cooperated with Texila American University, Mahatma Gandhi University, Universidad Central de Nicaragua, and Universidad Azteca to form the International Institute of Management and Technology Studies ( IIMTS) offering educational programmes to the institutes of high education in Central America, Europe, Asia and Middle East.[citation needed]


The university is a member of the European Association for Distance Learning[19] and American Council on Education.[20] In 2008, it became affiliated with the United States Department of Defense's Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES),[21] but does not appear in the DANTES catalog as of January 2014.[22] The university is accredited with premier status by the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC) in the United Kingdom.[23]


As of 2009, the University of Atlanta granted Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master of Science (MSc) degrees in the fields of business, social science, computer science, and education and healthcare administration. It offers Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with concentrations in administration, finance, international business, marketing, human resource management, management information systems, computer science, educational leadership, and criminal justice.[24]


  1. ^ Directory Of Authorized Schools, Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission website, accessed February 28, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Byron, Christopher (2004-06-07). "Fee for Certificate". The New York Post. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  3. ^ Harkness, Seth (2003-01-23). "Internet 'colleges' offer no-study diplomas for price". Rutland Herald. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  4. ^ a b "Virtual Academics now Cenuco". South Florida Business Journal. 2003-01-02. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  5. ^ a b c Duggan, Ed (2000-10-13). "Reality check for Virtual". South Florida Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  6. ^ a b "Virtual whatever". South Florida Business Journal. 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  7. ^ a b "Time to shuffle the deck and pick 2003's turkeys". South Florida Business Journal. 2003-11-21. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  8. ^ a b "Purchase and Sale Agreement". Form 8-K, exhibit 10.1. Securities and Exchange Commission. 2004-10-05. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  9. ^ "Description of Property". Cenuco Inc.Form 10-KSB. Securities and Exchange Commission. 2003-04-08. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  10. ^ a b c Spencer, Thomas (2008-09-02). "Alabama takes aim at Internet colleges; Chancellor's office says targets 'not real schools'". The Birmingham News. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  11. ^, accessed 13-12-2009
  12. ^ a b Report From the Accrediting Commission, pp. 26-30 in DETC News, Fall 2008, Distance Education and Training Council, accessed 12-12-2009.
  13. ^, accessed 13-12-2009
  14. ^ Actions of the DETC accrediting commission, June 6-7, 2008, accessed 23 December 2009
  15. ^ DETC Welcomes New Institutions, pp. 4-7 in DETC News, Fall 2008, Distance Education and Training Council, accessed 12-12-2009.
  16. ^ Actions of the DETC accrediting commission, June 5-6, 2009, accessed 23 December 2009
  17. ^ a b "Report from the Accrediting Commission", DETC Bulletin (Distance Education and Training Council) (Number 3), February 9, 2012: 2 
  18. ^ List of Dubai Universities, accessed February 28, 2009.
  19. ^ European Association for Distance Learning. "List of All Members: United States of America". Retrieved December 24, 2009. 
  20. ^ American Council on Education (2009). "Members and Associates Directory: U". Retrieved December 24, 2009. 
  21. ^ Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (December 2008). "DANTES Catalog of Nationally Accredited Distance Learning Program News". DANTES Information Bulletin (384): 5. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. 
  22. ^ "DANTES Online Catalog". Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  23. ^ "International College Directory". Accreditation Service for International Colleges. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  24. ^ "Listing for University of Atlanta". Distance Education and Training Council website. Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2009. 

External links

Coordinates: 33°55′38.43″N 84°16′17.90″W / 33.9273417°N 84.2716389°W / 33.9273417; -84.2716389