Individuals and groups

Individuals and groups whose story doesn't fit into any other category.

Frenzy at U. Mass.

Monday, Dec. 21, 1970

{josquote}A doctoral student recently got credit for one self-designed unit of "watching Dwight Allen."{/josquote}

Forgettable used to be the word for the University of Massachusetts School of Education. Like many such trade schools, it trained teachers in stale methods and lacked a complete graduate program. Then, two years ago, the university turned the place over to a frenetic professor of education from California named Dwight W. Allen. Ever since, it has hurtled into experiments that could turn U.S. teachers into models of sensitivity − or cause the school to self-destruct.

The ambitious son of a successful used-car dealer, Allen, 39, is one of nine American leaders of the Baha'i faith, a Persian religion resembling Unitarianism that advocates world brotherhood and universal education.

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Out of Stormy Past, UPI's Two 'Mystery Men' Have Covered Long Distance (Part 1)

June 20, 1982

...Had only Small and Overgaard been involved, it is likely that hardly a word of concern would have been spoken about the sale of UPI. But, then, there were also the Nashville "mystery men" -- Ruhe and Geissler -- with their controversial pasts.

When the news broke that they were involved, the same question was asked on Wall Street in New York and on Fleet Street in London as on Union Street in Nashville: "Who are Ruhe and Geissler?"

As ancedote after ancedote trickled out to fill the information vacuum about the two men, it prompted a second inquiry: "Where did they get the money to purchase United Press International?"

For they, indeed, had been labor organizers, civil rights demonstrators and war protestors during most of the decade of the 1960s.

Both of them are active members of the Baha'i faith, an Eastern religion founded in Persia in the 19th century and considered an "exotic" creed because it was little known in American culture.

Ruhe's father is one of nine international leaders of that religion. He left the United States 14 years ago to move to Haifa, Israel, the world headquarters of the Baha'i faith.

Neither Ruhe nor Geissler earned an undergraduate college degree, but both received master's degrees in education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst -- without writing a master's thesis. It was not required under the program they pursued.

The dean of the school of education at Amherst, Dr. Dwight Allen, is a national leader of the Baha'l faith.

Both Ruhe and Geissler, after leaving the University of Massachusetts, worked on the national staff of the Baha'i church in Wilmette, Ill., until five years ago.

As information about the two "mystery men" began to come out, another important question emerged:

Was there "Baha'i money" involved in the purchase of UPI?

{josquote}Was UPI now to be under the financial control of the Baha'i faith?{/josquote}

Only a few weeks before, the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon -- the so-called "Moonies" -- had started a newspaper, the Washington Times, in the nation's capital. Was UPI now to be under the financial control of the Baha'i faith?

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Out of Stormy Past, UPI's Two 'Mystery Men' Have Covered Long Distance (Part 2)

Dwight Allen

June 20, 1982

Ruhe followed Geissler to Wilmette several months later to take a job at the church headquarters, where he began to develop a television program for the religious center.

Back at the University of Massachusetts, the dean, Dr. Dwight Allen, another Baha'i, ran into controversy in 1976. He had befriended Ruhe and Geissler and had put a number of Baha'i members on the education school faculty.

After a series of newspaper stories charging financial mismanagement at the school, Allen and three other faculty members resigned. No charges were placed against Allen, although one faculty member was convicted of embezzling more than $28,000 and was given a three-year suspended sentence.

An internal "blue-ribbon committee" of school administrators also conducted an investigation into allegations that Allen had operated a "diploma mill" while he was dean, but the committee cleared Allen of any wrongdoing.

Allen later was to become a business associate of Ruhe and Geissler in their TV enterprise.

In 1977, Ruhe and Geissler left the Baha'i center in Wilmette to form a Chicago company -- Communications Design Group, Inc., a firm which provided communications consulting serevices to various clients, including Bell & Howell.

A third partner in the venture was Joon Chung, who also had worked at the Baha'i center in Wilmette and now lives in Nashville. Irene Chung, to whom Joon Chung is married, is president of the company's Murfreesboro TV station operation, and both Chungs own stock in Focus properties.

Ruhe and Geissler say the reason so many Baha'i members invested in their television operations is that they (Ruhe and Geissler) did not get outside investors and members of the faith believed in them.

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U.P.I.: Look Back in Sorrow

{amazon id='0070238049'}

Published: December 24, 1989

Down to the Wire - UPI's Fight for Survival. By Gregory Gordon and Ronald E. Cohen. Illustrated. 429 pp. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. $19.95.

...Losing millions a year, the E. W. Scripps Company began to try to sell U.P.I. in the early 1980's. There were few serious takers. Reuters, the British news service, made a pass, but in 1982 Scripps ended up dealing with an unlikely pair of entrepreneurs to take over a major news service: Douglas Ruhe and William Geissler, "complicated young men, a strange blend of idealism, arrogance, anger, bluster," in the authors' view.

With little real journalism experience, Mr. Ruhe and Mr. Geissler were the first of an oddly assorted group of entrepreneurs who fought for control of U.P.I. The pair might not have had much experience, but they knew how to make a deal. To get U.P.I. off its hands, Scripps sold the service to them in 1982 for $1, and then tossed in a "$5 million loan" that, according to the authors, "became an outright gift."

At this point, the struggle over U.P.I. turned into a free-for-all. There were firings and rehirings; suits and countersuits; fights with unions and fights with lenders. There were ''Downholds,'' the legendary U.P.I. edicts, flashed over the wire, that announced that the company was tightening, if that was possible, the squeeze on spending. Creditors demanded their money. Mr. Ruhe and Mr. Geissler put U.P.I. into debt and, reluctantly, went into bankruptcy in 1984.

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Sometimes First, Always Second

Monday, Sep. 12, 1983

...Securing a buyer for U.P.I, was not easy. The owners offered it first to a consortium of U.S. newspapers, next to the British-based Reuters news agency, then to National Public Radio, before finding controversial new proprietors in June 1982. Buyers Douglas Ruhe and William Geissler had minimal experience in journalism, but plenty in political activism: Ruhe, 39, was twice arrested for civil rights protests in the 1960s, while Geissler, 37, spent almost a year in federal prison for refusing to be drafted during the Viet Nam War. Both had been publicists for the little-known Bahá'i faith, a Unitarian religion, founded 120 years ago in what is now Iraq, that claims 3 million followers. Furthermore, the two Nashville businessmen admittedly had little wealth, but refused to discuss the financing of their purchase of U.P.I. Insisted Ruhe at the time: "No one is behind us." As an unintended admission of unpopularity, that statement was uncomfortably true: their home-town Nashville Banner immediately dropped U.P.I, because of the furor.

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