Former junk bond king Michael Milken, who has spent the years since his prison release trying to regain respectability by lavishly donating his ill-gotten gains to education, has sent a tremor through Incline Village with his latest maneuver.

Milken’s Knowledge Universe, Inc., one of the entities that hands out some of “his” millions to education projects, was about to enter into a partnership with Sierra Nevada College (SNC) in Incline Village when news surfaced that Milken was selling $1 billion of his interests in the private education company.

“I heard it word of mouth,” SNC provost Ray Ryan told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. “I have no idea what it means.”

Milken, who has a second home at Lake Tahoe, has not been heard from except through associates, who said he remains committed to the project, but the level of concern about what new investors might do with their stake in SNC is high, particularly since the partnership agreement was not signed on schedule last week.

“That Milken decided at the same time to sell off $1 billion in assets, whether it is to make the company stronger or not, is at the very least a bad PR move,” the Bonanza editorialized. “If he’s not concerned about what Incline residents or what the students and staff of SNC might have to say at such a fragile juncture, then what might that indicate about what’s going to happen a few years down the road when the school’s needs themselves are lost in the throes of a multi-billion dollar company?”

Some news reports, such as one in the Chronicle of Higher Education, have said that Milken’s firm was buying the college outright. That was denied, and corrections were published. If the agreement is signed as originally planned, Knowledge Universe would assume all the college’s debts and would then have authority to name a new board of trustees.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...