from the Illinois Board of Higher Education

January 28, 1999

Contact: Ross Hodel, 217/782-2551

Don Sevener, 217/782-3632


Court Bars American Conservatory of Music From Granting Degrees

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Board of Higher Education and Illinois Attorney General are notifying students of the American Conservatory of Music (ACM) that the institution is under court order to cease offering degrees and instruction in the state of Illinois.

A Cook County Circuit Judge has ruled that various corporations and individuals operating under the name of the American Conservatory of Music violated state laws in granting degrees without authorization from the Board of Higher Education. Circuit Judge Dorothy Kirie Kinnaird ruled that the defendants’ failure to receive IBHE authorization for its degree programs violated both the Illinois Academic Degree Act and the Private College Act. She enjoined Theodora Schulze, Richard Schulze, and Otto Schulze, who operated the American Conservatory of Music, from awarding academic degrees unless and until they have IBHE approval.

"This court order shuts down the illegal operators who have been using the American Conservatory of Music name and similar names," Kathleen Kelly, deputy director of the IBHE, said. "Students, prospective students, and other institutions should be forewarned that no one using this name has legal authority to grant degrees in Illinois."

Judge Kinnaird granted the request of the IBHE for a permanent prohibition against Conservatory Partners, LLC, which operated American Conservatory of Music, from "maintaining, operating, or establishing a post-secondary institution until the institution obtains a certificate of approval from the IBHE to establish and operate or become incorporated for the purpose of operating a post-secondary educational institution." She granted the IBHE motion to dissolve the American International Conservatory of Music as a corporation in Illinois.

The court further ordered the institution to supply a list of current students to the IBHE so they can be notified of the court's decision.

The original American Conservatory of Music closed in 1992 after a bankruptcy proceeding, and the defendants had used a series of corporate creations to grant degrees under the conservatory's name, even though they refused to seek IBHE approval to grant degrees.

"We have been puzzled and dismayed at the obstinacy of the defendants in this case," Kelly noted. "The Schultzes have had more than ample time and opportunity to comply with the requirements of the law. Many students believed the Schulzes' representations that they were issuing degrees legally. Unfortunately for students, this just was not true."

# # #