The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Former Dean Heads to Federal Trial

Former Dean Heads to Federal Trial

A former University dean is currently in the middle of a federal trial in Brooklyn, facing charges that include embezzlement and forcing international students to do her household chores in exchange for scholarships.

Cecilia Chang, formerly the dean for the Asian Studies Center, was arrested on Sept. 15 2010 and accused of allegedly charging hundreds of thousands of dollars to her St. John’s-issued credit card and forcing international students to work for her. Authorities say the students performed such tasks as hand washing her underwear and cooking for her and her son.

According to the New York Daily News, charges to Chang’s University credit card included fixing her car’s busted windshield, a $30,000 cash advance at Mohegan Sun casino, $1,308 at celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in Taiwan and $20,300 in law school tuition for her son.

During her defense, Chang’s lawyer, Stephen Mahler, reportedly said the expenses were necessary for Chang’s job at St. John’s.

“She was a goodwill ambassador, their secretary of state,” he said to the jury.

“She needed to keep up a great front, which was very expensive … she meets with international donors … and she can’t take these people to McDonald’s.”
The University learned about Chang’s actions when an anonymous letter, written in Chinese, was sent to the Board of Trustees.

The Torch reported in 2010 that Chang had allegedly diverted $250,000, donated by a Saudi prince for a lecture series and language program, to “The Global Development Initiative Foundation,” which Chang admitted to University officials was a hoax.

On Monday Oct. 15, a Chinese citizen, Peiyi Gan — who worked for Chang from 2004 to 2007, according to the Daily News — told the court in a video deposition, “To work for the dean is my duty … if I don’t do the duties, she is going to terminate the scholarship.”

If convicted, Chang faces 20 years in jail.

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Anthony O'Reilly, News Editor
Anthony has been one of the most, if not the most, loyal person at this paper. His passion and his dedication to reporting and production is unparalleled. In the last few weeks, he has demonstrated the qualities of a leader and a coach that are required for this position. I have nothing but confidence that Anthony will do a great job. He will serve you, the reader, by providing the most honest, objective news possible. —Terence Cullen News Editor, Emeritus

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    Nick JonesOct 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    How did father harrington not know about chang’s actions? he got his predecessor fired and he called one of that guy’s friends a party girl and he lost on that one big. he’s just as guilty as she is…check the past and you’ll see!

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