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Boston Center for Adult Education to cease educational programming as it looks to modernize

Just months after three former employees were charged with stealing $1.7 million, the Boston Center for Adult Education will halt all educational and special event programs at the end of the year and reevaluate its future.

The 86-year-old organization in recent years has had an increase in operating deficits due to declining enrollment and cancellations, board chairman Dean T. Hara wrote Thursday in a letter posted to the group’s website.

“The Board takes seriously its fiduciary responsibility to be prudent stewards of BCAE assets and it has become clear that we have reached a point that is not sustainable,” Hara said. “Given these developments and after much careful thought, we know this is the right time to re-envision our organization.”


The group, located in Bay Village, offers an array of classes, ranging from baking to computers, to meet the social and educational needs of local residents.

All classes in the current term, as well as those in the November-December catalog will continue as scheduled, according to his letter.

“We did not reach this decision lightly and know that it may be difficult for the many who have helped to make the BCAE a venerable Boston institution,” said Hara.

The letter does not reference the theft charges announced in July against two former top executives and a part-time employee.

Former executive director Susan Brown and comptroller Mark Mitchell, a Saugus selectman, were arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on larceny charges. Brown’s business partner, Karen Kalfian, who briefly worked for the center in 2005, faces a similar charge.

All three pleaded not guilty and were released on personal recognizance.

Brown and Mitchell are alleged to have falsified financial entries and lied to the board of directors, leaving them in the dark. Prosecutors said $1.7 million vanished from the center over eight years.

By the time the center realized something was amiss, it had been stripped of its tax-exempt status, a humbling blow for the institution that was founded in 1933.


The center offers classes and programs “responsive to adults’ emerging needs,” according to the group’s website. Its mission includes fostering cross-cultural understanding and providing access to information that helps “create an enlightened and involved citizenry.” Most of its classes and administrative offices are housed at 122 Arlington St., located just blocks from the Public Garden.

The center’s planning process, according to Hara, will now be facilitated by TDC, a Boston-based nonprofit management consulting firm.

“We look forward to transforming the BCAE into a modern Boston resource that enhances adult learning for many,” he said.

Gal Tziperman Lotan of Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.