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Five Towns College founder removed by trustees

Dr. Stanley Cohen speaks before the Five Towns

Dr. Stanley Cohen speaks before the Five Towns College graduating class of 2012 at the school's Commencement Ceremony May 19, 2012. Trustees at the college have asked the Cohen to step down amid tension over the future of the for-profit music college. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Trustees at Five Towns College in Dix Hills have replaced the school's founder and president amid tension over the future of the for-profit music college.

Stanley Cohen, 86, of Melville, had led the college since its charter was approved by the state in 1972.

Susan Barr, the 800-student college's dean and provost who has worked at Five Towns for more than 25 years, was named interim president this week, officials said.

"We have every confidence in Dr. Barr's ability to lead the institution and to carry the torch of leadership forward as she takes the reins of the college," board of trustees chairwoman Rachel Andoscia said in a statement Friday. "We know that she is committed to excellence, and that the college will continue its tradition of service to students and the Long Island community."

Cohen and his two estranged children have been embroiled in a decades-old legal battle over their financial stake in the private school and whether to turn it into a nonprofit institution.

Cohen and the board have argued that the college would be better positioned to build an endowment if it were a nonprofit.

Along with his late wife Lorraine, Cohen put the Dix Hills campus in a trust for their three children in 1992.

David Cohen, a son and former administrator at the school, and his sister Janet Cohen Kaplan, have separate lawsuits pending in Suffolk County Supreme Court against their father for control of their share. They are trying to block the school from becoming a nonprofit and allege that their father was using college money for personal expenses.

David and Janet Cohen did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

Last November, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a Philadelphia-based college accrediting body, put Five Towns College on probation after the school failed to show it had sufficient leadership to make decisions and fulfill its educational mission.

The Middle States report cited the school's noncompliance as "sufficiently serious, extensive, or acute."

The school remains accredited while on probation. At the time of the report's release, Cohen said the college's administration had already taken steps to correct the violations.

Stanley Cohen did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

Five Towns College offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in jazz, commercial music, performing arts, the entertainment industry and music education.


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