Sullivan University

Sullivan University
Motto Kentucky's Career University
Type Private, for-profit
Established 1962
Chancellor A.R. Sullivan
President Glenn Sullivan
Location Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Campus Louisville, Lexington, Ft. Knox, Sullivan University Online

Sullivan University is licensed to offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education in accordance with the provisions of KRS 164.945-164.99, based in Louisville, Kentucky and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools—the first for-profit college or university to receive this accreditation. Sullivan University currently has physical campuses in Louisville, Lexington, and Fort Knox, and an online campus. With approximately 6,000 students, Sullivan is Kentucky's largest private university.[1]


Sullivan Business College was founded in 1962 by A.O. Sullivan and his son, A.R. Sullivan, as a one-year school preparing people for careers. In 1972, the school began to offer associate degrees in addition to its one-year career diplomas. The institution was renamed in 1976 to Sullivan Junior College of Business to reflect its authority to grant associate degrees, and moved to its present Louisville campus on Bardstown Road and the Watterson Expressway. The school soon expanded by opening additional campuses—its Ft. Knox campus was opened in 1982, and its campus in Lexington (currently on Harrodsburg Road) in 1985. In 1987 Sullivan opened the National Center for Hospitality Studies offering degrees in culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, hotel and restaurant management and catering. Sullivan College of Technology and Design and Spencerian College are also part of the Sullivan University System.

In 1990, the baccalaureate degree program was added, receiving its accreditation in 1992. The college first offered an MBA degree in 1997. The name was changed to its present designation, Sullivan University, in 2000, reflecting the college's growth. In 2008, Sullivan began its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Pharmacy, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Pharmacy graduates are eligible to sit for the National Board Exam. In 2010, Sullivan launched its first Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in management. Most of the university's degree programs are available online through Sullivan University Online.

Sullivan University still reflects its original philosophy of quickly preparing students for careers by offering a "stair step" approach. A student can attain a career diploma in one year, an associate degree in eighteen months, a bachelor's degree after an additional eighteen months, and a master's degree in an additional eighteen months. This way, they can attain employment at an entry level while working toward a degree.

Sullivan University operates on the quarter system with each period lasting eleven weeks. The Louisville and Lexington campuses offer "Plus Friday," where campuses do not hold classes on any Fridays but do have the campus offices open so students can work with full-time undergraduate instructors, who are required to be on campus on Friday morning.

In 2012, Sullivan University entered into an agreement with Historic Homes Foundation, Inc., the owner of the adjoining Historic Farmington Plantation, to lease 5 of the landmark's 18 acres for use as a 300-space parking lot to be shared by the entities. Controversial questions about the proposal were raised in online media leading up to its consideration in the February 3, 2013 meeting of the Metro Louisville Landmarks Commission's Individual Landmarks Architectural Review Committee. [2][3]

Culinary programs

The school's culinary programs are one of its distinctive features; the Louisville campus has Winston's restaurant that gives Sullivan students hands-on experience. Both faculty and students have been featured on the Food Network; Louisville instructor John Castro bested Bobby Flay in Hot Browns in a 2008 Throwdown,[4] while Lexington graduate Brigitte Nguyen came in a close second in a hamburger-themed Ultimate Recipe Showdown shown in 2009.[5] Brigitte won the $50,000 first prize in the National Chicken Cooking Contest in San Antonio May 2, 2009, with her "Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw."[6]

The American Culinary Federation, Inc. (ACF) has named Chef Derek Spendlove first chair of the ACF Certification Commission. Spendlove currently serves as Director of the Baking and Pastry Arts Program for the National Center for Hospitality Studies (NCHS) at Sullivan University. He also serves as team manager of Sullivan University's award-winning student culinary competition team.[7]

In 2008, Sullivan University was selected as the only culinary program in the United States to have been formally invited to cook for the Olympic athletes and sponsors for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.[8]

Sullivan University Online

Sullivan University Online enrolls students throughout the United States and abroad. The offices for Sullivan University Online are located adjacent to the Sullivan University Louisville, Kentucky campus and include Admissions, Financial Planning, Registration, Student Academic Services and Career Services, dedicated to providing a full array of resources and services to students enrolled in fully online programs without requiring students to come to a physical campus.

In a 2009 lawsuit, it was disclosed that the organization held just $20 million in cash reserves though the Sullivan University System distributed $77 million over the previous 10 years to its two sole stockholders, Chancellor Alva Sullivan and ex-wife Patricia Schrenk. These distributions excluded salaries, bonuses, and other benefits received from employment with the organization. In her filing, Schrenk alleged that college funds were used to pay for personal vacations, to settle sexual harassment lawsuits, and for private lawn care at the stockholders' residences. Though the lawsuit was not lodged against the Sullivan University System, its relatively low cash reserves despite the large distributions made to its stockholders made local and regional news.[9]

In August 2011, a Special Prosecutor was appointed to investigate potential violations of state campaign-finance laws when a former employee alleged that the Sullivan University System Chancellor and other executives asked more than 100 employees to pledge to vote for and donate to Todd P'Pool, a then-candidate for Kentucky Attorney General. P'Pool was running against incumbent Jack Conway, who had been investigating the Sullivan University System in several matters since earlier that same year. The allegation stated that executives urged employees to demonstrate their support for the candidate in front of all present at a meeting and to donate to the campaign by presenting a personal check to Sullivan University System executives.[10]

In 2011, the Sullivan University System was ordered to pay more than $480,000 to approximately then-current and previous employees for a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The suit alleged that the System misclassified admissions representatives and failed to accurately track work hours in order to avoid payment of overtime wages. Though alerted to the situation in 1994, the U.S. Department of Labor did not review the case until 2007, and did not file the lawsuit against both the Sullivan University System and its Chancellor until 2010.[11]

In January 2013, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against Spencerian College, an institution within the Sullivan University System, for alleged misrepresentation of job placement data. The suit alleges that the Sullivan University System knowingly and intentionally provided false job placement data to lure students "into student loan arrangements and to join their for-profit institution." The disparities between job placement numbers reported on the Spencerian College website those reported by the Sullivan University System to Spencerian College's institutional accrediting organization differ by as much as 40%, according to the suit.[12] As of April 2014, the suit remains in litigation.[13]


  1. Lane, Ed (October 2002). "One-on-One October 2002". The Lane Report. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
  2. Morrison, Curtis "Sullivan University moving forward with plan to use five acres at Farmington for parking lot", Insider Louisville, Louisville, 20 January 2013. Retrieved on 1 February 2013.
  3. Morrison, Curtis. "Updated Farmington follow: Amplifications and clarifications on Sullivan/Historic Homes relationship", Insider Louisville, Louisville, 31 January 2013. Retrieved on 1 February 2013.
  4. Hot Brown Throwdown
  5. Sullivan University Graduate Competes on Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown
  6. "chickencookingcontest-com - Home Decoration done well - home decoration, home decorating, home decoration ideas, home decorating magazines, home decorating catalogs, home decorating stores, home decorations ideas". Retrieved 2012-01-13.
  7. Alumni Channel - "Sullivan University Alumni (Kentucky): Official Alumni Website". Retrieved 2012-01-13.
  8. "Sullivan University Students and Faculty Travel to Beijing to Turn up the Heat at the 2008 Olympic Games". Reuters. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  9. Chives, John. "Kentucky pays millions in scholarships to for-profit colleges", Lexington Herald-Leader, 27 November 2011. Retrieved on 31 August 2014.
  10. Chives, John. "Prosecutor named to investigate complaint against Sullivan University", Lexington Herald-Leader, 30 August 2011. Retrieved on 31 August 2014.
  11. "Department of Labor sues Sullivan University", Louisville Business First, 18 March 2010. Retrieved on 21 August 2014.
  12. Musgrave, Beth. "Kentucky attorney general sues Spencerian College, alleging deceptive practices", Lexington Herald-Leader, 16 January 2013. Retrieved on 31 August 2014.
  13. "Kentucky Attorney General Complaint", 15 January 2013. Retrieved on 31 August 2014.

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