Lusi, you've got some 'splainin' to do

Higher "learning"; room disservice; a Red Bandana for Henry
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  May 21, 2014

It truly pains P&J to see our alma mater, Ashley University, dragged through the mud in the current Providence School Department imbroglio.

For those who haven’t been following: it was revealed last week that Nancy Stevenin, a $94,000-per-year supervisor of transition and community development at Birch Vocational Academy (which falls within the Providence School Department), had listed on her resume a bachelor’s degree (a mandatory requirement for the job) from Ashley University, an online, non-accredited school. Later, an NBC 10 WJAR reporter was able to purchase a backdated PhD from the school for about $600 over the phone.

So. . . big whoop! Ms. Stevenin was probably attracted to this institution of higher learning — as were your superior correspondents — assuming the school was founded by Ashley Wilkes, of Gone with the Wind fame. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with such an elegant gentleman? Of course, how were we to know at the time that the school was actually a subsidiary of Ashley Stewart, a fine purveyor of plus-sized clothing for women?

This brouhaha led to a minor squabble between gubernatorial candidates. Republican businessman Ken Block complained that Providence Mayor Angel Taveras had been “asleep at the switch” by failing to act sooner in addressing the controversy, while Angel riposted that Block didn’t know nuthin’ ‘bout birthin’ schools. (Okay, that’s not what Angel actually said, but we’re still under the spell of Gone with the Wind.)

On Monday, Stevenin resigned and it looks like the person responsible for hiring Stevenin, Providence School Department Superintendent Susan Lusi, is in some hot water, herself. Lusi cited Stevenin’s long experience in Providence schools as justification for her hiring — and continued employment, even after her bogus credentials were revealed — but now we suspect she could be facing her own summons to the Principal’s Office, or worse.

As for P&J, we’re just sorry that Ashley University’s name has been besmirched. It is the place where we learned all we know about the plus-sized women’s clothing we so proudly prance about in.


An interesting item appeared this week on Bob Plain’s politics blog,, concerning the pricey Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel (Vo Dilun description: that’s the place next to Veterans Auditorium, built on/in the remains of the unfinished Masonic Temple). In 2008, a year after the Sage Hospitality Resources organization established the hotel, the Renaissance was named a “TAG-approved” facility. TAG stands for “Travel Advocacy Group” — a the designation awarded to “gay-friendly hotels, resorts and destinations across the United States.”

In early 2013, the Procaccianti Group (TPG), a Cranston-based hotelier and development company, acquired the hotel from Sage and, by May 2013, the Renaissance was no longer TAG approved.

RIFuture writer Steve Ahlquist surmises that this change was due to the fact that “one or more complaints concerning the violation of the non-discrimination policy” the hotel agreed to under TAG guidelines have been filed with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights alleging “discriminatory practices” against LGBTQ employees. If this was reported, TAG would expect the Renaissance ‘”to adequately address and resolve the issues presented.” And if the hotel failed to adequately resolve the issues the hotel would have been “terminated as a TAG Approved member’ and the Renaissance immediately compelled to cease “using TAG Approved identification on promotional materials.”

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