For-profit Globe schools close as chain awaits fraud lawsuit decision

The for-profit Minnesota School of Business and Globe University are closing a combined six campuses in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The closures come as the schools' corporate parent awaits a decision in a consumer fraud lawsuit brought by the Minnesota attorney general.

The schools put out a statement Monday saying the campus closings are a product of an improving economy that has led to fewer people looking for additional career training and more students seeking online learning.

The schools will cut 45 jobs at the campuses and at the corporate office in Woodbury.

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"Our educational model and program offerings provide solutions to the skill gap in today's workforce. Despite our reduced physical footprint, we remain committed to the same quality, career-focused education we have provided for more than 130-years," said Jeff Myhre, CEO and co-owner, in a statement. "While we are saddened to lose any of our wonderful employees, we believe these changes are necessary and will help us provide a more robust student experience."

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's office claims the schools mislead students about job prospects and were not clear about accreditation. Swanson's office sued Globe and the Minnesota School of Business in Hennepin County Civil Court.

A month-long bench trial wrapped up in early May. A ruling is expected later this year.

Globe said in a statement the changes on the campuses were "complicated by a three year negative publicity campaign orchestrated by the Minnesota Attorney General."

"The Attorney General's campaign has not only impacted our enrollment, but has also called into question the validity of the degrees of tens of thousands of our graduates who worked hard to accomplish their dream of a higher education, thereby only injuring students and alumni, the very groups she claims to represent. And now, her efforts have caused the loss of more jobs in Minnesota and beyond," COO Jeanne Herrmann said in a statement.

The Attorney General's office disagrees. "Any problems they have are of their own making," Ben Wogsland, a spokesperson for the Attorney General's office, wrote in an email.

"Minnesota School of Business and Globe University ignore the facts: They had a steep reduction in both their employee count and their student enrollment before the lawsuit was filed against them in July 2014 by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office," Wogsland said.

According to a report from the Office of Higher Education, Globe University's Woodbury campus enrollment fell from 1,540 in 2010 to 776 in 2014, a nearly 50 percent decline.

Over the same period, enrollment at 10 Minnesota School of Business campuses tracked by the Office of Higher Education declined 68 percent, falling from 6,997 students to 2,207.

Globe will cut its Green Bay and Madison West campuses in Wisconsin, which will be consolidated into other campuses.

The Minnesota School of Business will shut down its Lakeville, Brooklyn Center, Elk River and Plymouth campuses. The school said those campuses will be consolidated into other Twin Cities campuses.

Lakeville will shut down on June 30, and the others will by the end of the year.

After the closures and consolidation, Globe will have eight campuses in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Minnesota School of Business will have four campuses in Minnesota.

A spokesperson for Globe declined further comment on the matter beyond the schools' statement.