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US Department of Education

Department of Education Backs Controversial Nonprofit Conversions

The U.S. Department of Education has “preliminarily concluded” that it will allow two controversial for-profit institutions to become nonprofits. Purdue University announced its intention to acquire the for-profit Kaplan University system back in April. The acquisition has since been approved by the state of Indiana, but still needed backing from the Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission, its accreditor. Now, with federal approval, all that is needed to finalize the acquisition is authorization from the Higher Learning Commission. The move has set a major precedent in the integration of for-profits with traditional colleges and universities.

The second deal, that seems to have jumped another regulatory hurdle on its way to becoming a non-profit, is the acquisition of Education Management Corp (EDMC)—parent company of Argosy University, South University, and the Art Institutes—by The Dream Center Foundation, a non-profit created to fund philanthropic programs across the country. The Education Department said “it does not see any impediment to EDMC’s request for approval of the change in ownership or its request for approval of nonprofit institution status.” Many are concerned that the Dream Center, which has no experience running higher education institutions, will continue to operate the schools in the same manner as before. If approved by its accreditors, the move would be one of the largest for-profit to nonprofit changeovers on record.

Critics of the acquisitions cite that nonprofit conversions are being used to skirt regulations and mask hidden financial incentives. Unlike for-profits, nonprofit schools are tax exempt. Nonprofit colleges are also excluded from the 90/10 rule, which prohibits schools from earning more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal student loans. Bob Shireman of the Century Foundation—a think tank that investigates for-profit institutions—told the USA Today that the deals are like a bad restaurant being able to claim new ownership in order to improve its reputation without making any additional changes, and cites that Kaplan has been the focal point of past government investigations and lawsuits.

According to a Department of Education spokeswoman, “the department has preliminarily concluded that, based on the information provided to the department, there are no current impediments to the requests for approval of change of ownership.” For the deals to be finalized, both must be approved by their accreditors. The Dream Center-EDMC deal is a more complicated because it requires the approval of two different accrediting agencies. Argosy University is accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, while South University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Purdue-Kaplan deal relies on approval from the Higher Learning Commission only. The HLC is reviewing the plan now and is expected to make a decision by November 2017.


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Harvard Dean Named Next UVA President

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, James E. Ryan, is set to become the University of Virginia’s next president. Ryan, 50, is a former alumnus from UVA’s School of Law–where he finished at the top of his class. After working in New Jersey as a public interest lawyer, he returned to UVA as a law professor and served as the School of Law’s academic associate dean from 2005-2009. He left Virginia in 2013 to become the dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. At Harvard, Ryan was a successful fundraiser and made a number of significant faculty appointments. A presidential search committee was formed earlier this year by a select committee of board members, faculty and students after current president, Teresa Sullivan, announced her plans to step down in January of this year. Ryan will begin as president next summer.


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Latest Senate Funding Bill Increases Pell Grants, Extends ACICS Accreditation

The Senate Committee on Appropriations has approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Bill, which as part of its overall package, will dedicate $68.3 billion in funding to the U.S. Department of Education. A previous proposal by President Trump, to cut spending from the Education Department, was denied when the Senate Subcommittee voted unanimously to increase overall education spending to the tune of $29 million.

More specifically, the bill promotes higher education affordability with a discretionary increase in Pell grants, from $5,920 to $6,020—the first in over 10 years. According to the Senate Committee, “This discretionary increase ensures the maximum award will continue to increase next school year to help students keep up with rising costs and reduce the need for student loans.”

The proposed bill also adds funding to the Year-Round Pell Program, which allows students to receive up to 150 percent of grants over a whole year, not just the fall and spring semesters. The new grant is designed to add $1,600 annually to allow students to pursue higher education year-round, in hopes of finishing up degree programs faster. The bill also outlines a plan to restore Pell aid for defrauded students and those attending colleges or universities that have closed.

Also, as reported by Inside Higher Ed, the 269 institutions accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools have been granted an additional 18-month extension to find new accreditors. ACICS is an accrediting agency that mostly recognizes for-profit schools. In December of 2016, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would no longer recognize ACICS, and gave schools 18 months to find valid accreditation. Under the new funding bill, schools recognized by ACICS now have 36 months, from December of 2016, to find new accreditation.

Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Roy Blunt said, “The bill also continues building on our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and make college more affordable. I urge all of my Senate colleagues to support this measure when it reaches the floor.” The bill awaits a final vote from the entire U.S. Senate.


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Devos Selects For-Profit Administrator as Chief Enforcement Officer

Former for-profit college official, Julian Schmoke, has been hired by the Department of Education to become its new chief enforcement officer for higher education, Politico reports. Essentially, Schmoke’s job will be investigating and protecting students from fraudulent practices by higher education institutions. Schmoke was formerly employed by Devry University, the for-profit institution that was forced to pay over $100 million last year by the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Education on charges that it committed the type of fraud that Schmoke’s department will now be investigating.

Ethics experts and Democrats have become increasingly frustrated with the Betsy Devos administration and its ties to the for-profit, higher education industry. Earlier this year, the DOE was sued by 18 states for not enforcing the Borrower Defense rule. The rule protects students from predatory loans seen as fraudulent and was rescinded by the department in July, citing a federal lawsuit—filed by a group of for-profit colleges.

In June, the DOE hired A. Wayne Johnson, the CEO of a private student lending company, to head the department’s $1.3 trillion federal student loan system. Devos said in a statement, “[Johnson] will bring a unique combination of CEO-level operating skills and an in-depth understanding of the needs and issues associated with student loan borrowers and their families.” Former head of federal student aid, James Runcie, resigned in May saying he could not “in good conscience continue to be accountable as Chief Operating Officer given the risk associated with the current environment at the [Education] Department.”

In a letter to Education Secretary Devos and A Wayne. Johnson, Senate Democrats urged Devos to appoint a chief enforcement officer that has “relevant experience in consumer protection or litigation, managing attorneys, and conducting investigations with the highest ethical standards.”  Schmoke previously oversaw Devry University’s science and engineering school, and currently serves as the director of operations at a tech school in Georgia. According to Politico, Johnson wrote in an email, “Julian possesses over 16 years of experience in higher education leadership with extensive knowledge in the development and implementation of strategies for achieving student success, higher education policy and evaluation of academic programs.” The Department of Education and Schmoke have not responded to requests for comment from Politico.


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Female Presidents at Doctoral Research Universities Decreasing

New research from Higher Education Publications, Inc., indicates that the number of women in presidential positions at the major research universities is decreasing. The analysis tracked presidents of the 115 colleges and universities in the United States that are Carnegie classified as doctoral research, highest activity institutions. Carnegie classified doctoral institutions include schools that award at least 20 research/doctoral degrees during a given year, such as Princeton, Stanford and Michigan.

The report, based on information from the HigherEd Direct Database, examined Carnegie classified doctoral universities from 1988 to the present. Currently, 16 of the 115, or just under 14% of institutions listed, have female presidents. The number of women in chief executive positions peaked from 2009 through 2012, when 23 of the 115 schools had women as presidents. The lowest year for female presidents was in 1994, with only 4 female and 111 male presidents.

Data from the study shows significant growth in the number of female presidents from 1988 to 2012, when it topped out at 20%. Since then, the percentage of females in presidential positions at doctoral universities has trended downward, to under 14%.

Female presidents chart

Conversely, according to a report by the American Council on Education, 30% of all colleges and universities in the U.S. have female presidents, with the most (36%) at associate institutions. The ACE Report also shows continuous growth in the percentage of female presidents in the last 30 years, from 9.5 % in 1986 to 30% in 2016.

HEP’s Research shows that the average tenure of male presidents is longer than that of female presidents. On average, male presidents serve for 5.96 years at doctoral research institutions, while females serve for an average of 4.87 years. The longest serving tenure for a female president in the study was a 15-year tenure by Dr. Shirly Kenny, of SUNY Stony Brook. The longest serving male is Dr. John Hitt, who has been at the University of Central Florida for the past 25 years.

Tenure Chart

While the percentage of women in presidential positions at colleges and universities has grown in the last thirty years, research from Higher Education Publications, Inc. indicates a major disparity between top research institutions and other higher education institutions. While the Ivy league has made progress in gender diversity—four out of the eight schools are run by females—overall, just under 14% of college presidents are female at top doctoral research institutions, while the rest of the country is at 30%.



ACE’s “American College President Study 2017”: http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Pages/American-College-President-Study.aspx

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Debt Levels Growing for Student Borrowers

Currently, over 40 percent of student loan borrowers leaving college owe at least $20,000. That’s double, up from 20 percent in the last decade. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a study that analyzed borrowers who began repaying loans from 2002 to 2014, and looked at their repayment status through 2016. The data suggests that:

  • At least 40 percent of borrowers owe over $20,000.
  • Thirty percent of student loan borrowers are behind their loan balances after five years in repayment.
  • 50 percent of student loan borrowers are over 34 when they start repaying their loans
  • 60 percent of those who cannot reduce their balances are delinquent.

The report also indicates growth in awareness among private companies who offer incentives to employees with student debt. Employers are increasingly helping their employees who borrowed by offering repayment assistance and other programs designed to help employees in debt. The information released seems to back up the issue of growing student loan debt in the United States.

The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray said, “The bureau’s research shows that people are taking on more student debt later in life and having a tougher time paying it back.” At the end of the first quarter of 2017, outstanding student loan balances were over $1.3 trillion, up $34 billion from the last quarter of 2016.

President’s Report – July 2017


Benedict College Appoints New President

Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis has been announced as the next president of Benedict College. Dr. Artis will make history by becoming the first woman to lead the school located in Columbia, South Carolina. She will replace Dr. David Swinton in September. Swinton is retiring after 23 years at the school.

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Permanent Position for Bennett College President

The board of trustees at Bennett College have appointed Dr. Phyllis Dawkins to become the school’s eighteenth president. Dawkins previously served as interim president, starting last August.

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Bishop State CC Names New President

Bishop State has named Dr. Reginald Sykes to become the school’s next president. Dr. Sykes had been the interim president since February 2016. Sykes will begin immediately as the permanent president.

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City College of San Francisco Taps New Chancellor

Dr. Mark Rocha has been appointed chancellor of the City College of San Francisco. Rocha was previously the president of Pasadena City College. Rocha is the first permanent chancellor at CCSF since 2015.

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Elms College Announces 11th President

Dr. Harry E. Dumay has been named the next president of Elms College. Dumay was previously the senior vice president for finance and CFO at St. Anslem College. Dr. Dumay replaces Sister Mary Reap, who retired in May.

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Cox College Promotes Next President from Within

Dr. Amy DeMelo has been announced as the next president of Cox College in Springfield, Missouri. DeMelo has served as the VP of academic affairs and institutional effectiveness at Cox since 2014. She began as president in late June.

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New Erie CC President

Dr. Dan Hocoy has started as president at Erie Community College. Hocoy was announced as the school’s 11th president earlier this month.

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Interim President Named at Kansas City Kansas CC

Dr. Jacqueline Vietti has been chosen by the KCKCC Board of Trustees to become the school’s interim president. Vietti previously served Butler County Community College as the school’s president. Former president, Doris Givens, was placed on administrative leave in mid-July.

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Treadwell Appointed Interim President at Keene State College

Dr. Melinda Treadwell will begin as Keene State College’s interim president on July 31st. Treadwell replaces Dr. Anne E. Huot, who announced her resignation in June. Treadwell previously served as provost at Keene State college and has a doctorate from Dartmouth.

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Lake Superior State Announces Interim President

The board of trustees at Lake Superior State University have tapped Dr. Peter T. Mitchell to begin as interim president. Mitchell replaces Dr. Thomas Pleger, who passed away in May. Dr. Mitchell previously served as president of Albion college for 10 years, from 1997-2007.

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Metropolitan CC-Penn Valley Names New President

Dr. Tyjaun Lee has been announced as the next president of Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. Dr. Lee will take over for Dr. Seabrooks who left the school in July 2016.  Lee is expected to begin in early August.

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Morehouse Alum Takes Over as Interim President

Harold Martin Jr. will step in as interim president at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Martin is a graduate of Morehouse College, and joined the school’s board in 2014. Martin takes over for William Taggart, who passed away in June.

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Interim President Named at Northeast State CC

Mr. James King has taken over as interim president at Northeast State Community College. King previously served as Executive Vice Chancellor for the Tennessee Board of Regents.  He began his tenure July 1st following the retirement of Dr. Janice Gilliam.

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Dr. Medica Promoted at Penn State Schuykill

Dr. Darcy Medica has been named Penn State Shuykill’s next president. Medica is currently the director of academic affairs at the school.  She will begin her tenure on August 1st.

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Research College of Nursing Announces Next President

Dr. Thad Wilson has been named the next president of the Research College of Nursing in Kansas City. Wilson replaces Nancy Debasio, who retired after 28 years at the school.

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RIT President to Begin Tenure

Dr. David C. Munson has started as Rochester Institute of Technology’s 10th president. Munson replaces Dr. Bill Destler, who retired in June. Dr. Munson previously served as the dean of engineering at Michigan.

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Dr. Eighmy Named President of UT- San Antonio

The Board of Regents for the University of Texas System has named Dr. Taylor Eighmy as the next president at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Eighmy currently serves at UT-Knoxville as the school’s vice chancellor for research and engagement. He will begin as president in September.

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Bethune-Cookman President Announces Early Retirement

Dr. Edison O. Jackson, president of Bethune-Cookman University, as announced his early retirement from the school. Jackson’s retirement comes after 2 years of operating at a loss and a controversial dorm project. Johnson has served the school since 2012.

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Wiley College President Retiring

Dr. Haywood L Strickland has announced that he will retire from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Strickland said, “I’m getting old.” Dr. Strickland is the longest serving president in Wiley’s history with 18 years at the helm. He will retire at the end of the next academic year.

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Briar Cliff President Resigns

Dr. Hamid Shirvani has announced his resignation from Briar Cliff University. Shirvani began as the school’s 10th president in 2016. He cited “a combination of family, personal and professional considerations” as the reasons for leaving.

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Shaw University President Leaving for Position at Howard

President of Shaw University, Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, has left the school to become the executive VP and chief operating officer at Howard University. Dubroy served as president of Shaw for two years.

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Chancellor Announces Resignation from UH-Hilo

Dr. Donald Straney has announced his decision to resign as chancellor from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Straney is leaving for a position in the UH System as VP of academic planning and policy. He plans to resign on August 1st.

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Evansville President to Resign

The University of Evansville’s president, Dr. Thomas Kazee, has announced he will leave the school in May of 2018. Kazee has served the school for the past 8 years.

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DHS International Students

DHS Proposal May Drastically Affect International Students

The Washington Post reports that the Department of Homeland Security has drafted a preliminary proposal that would require international students to reapply annually for permission to study in the United States. The proposal could hamper the admission of foreign students to colleges and universities by adding additional costs, paperwork and an annual refiling of status to those seeking education in America.

In a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 12 higher education associations and organizations noted “serious concern” with the proposed changes. “When faced with up to a 400 percent increase in fees, redundant forms, and restrictive validity periods, an applicant will likely opt to pursue their studies elsewhere,” the letter reads.

It also points to the fact that global competition is increasing for international students with “countries like Canada and Germany publicly advertising their welcoming policies in an attempt to become a destination of choice. It is imperative that our country’s visa issuance procedures and duration of stay policies are efficient and streamlined, not burdensome and prohibitive.”

Across the country, international students add to a university’s global experience, but they also pay more expensive out-of-state tuition, providing considerable financial incentives to U.S. colleges and universities by helping those institutions struggling with overall funding. The letter points out that “though international students make up only five percent of postsecondary students in the country, they contributed $32 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 400,000 jobs just in the last academic year alone.”

Department of Homeland Security officials say the proposal seeks to enhance national security by closely monitoring foreign students. According to The Washington Post, some at DHS believe that student visas are too open-ended in how they allow students to transfer from one program to another. Officials say the plan is still in its initial stages and could require regulatory changes that would take a minimum of 18 months. DHS spokesman David Lapan said, “DHS is exploring a variety of measures that would ensure that our immigration programs—including programs for international students studying in the United States—operate in a manner that promotes the national interest, enhances national security and public safety and ensures the integrity of our immigration system.”

Non-traditional Student

“Non-Traditional” Students the New Majority

The demographic profile of students at US colleges and universities has changed dramatically in the past decade. The majority of college students have shifted to an older, more diversified pool who are seeking degrees while juggling other responsibilities, such as work and family commitments. They are known as non-traditional students and are now the majority of students attending college.

Certain characteristics of “non-traditional” students:

  • 25 or older when they finished their bachelor’s degree
  • Received a GED or equivalent
  • Employed full time while in school
  • Enrolled as a part-time student while pursuing a degree
  • Financially independent of parents

According to a 2012 report by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, non-traditional students have been inadequately served by higher education institutions, despite their growing numbers. A study by US News showed that non-traditional students cited a lack of scheduling flexibility and personalized pace of instruction as variables that negatively affected their learning experience.

Ways higher education institutions are adapting to “non-traditional students”:

  • Increase in online learning programs
  • Accelerated Course Formats
  • Wider availability of services and scheduling
  • Multiple options for financial aid and billing

As jobs and careers continue to change, so too will the integration of programs that offer multiple options of learning to the evolving student in higher education.


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Department of Education

18 States Sue Department of Education

18 democratic attorneys general from states across the country have filed a lawsuit against the Education Department and Secretary Devos to enforce a ruling on protecting students from predatory loans. “The borrower defense” rule was installed by the Obama administration to allow students who felt they were defrauded to get their student loans potentially forgiven. Last month, the Education Department rescinded the “borrower defense rule” before it went into effect in July, citing a federal lawsuit filed by a group of for-profit colleges against the law.

The lawsuit filed Thursday argues that Devos broke federal rules by stopping the ruling without enough public input or justification.  The suit also argues that for-profit schools benefit from taxpayer funded loans while “the students themselves struggle under the burden of a student loan debt they cannot afford” after working towards degrees “that may be of questionable value to them.” According to Inside Higher Ed, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy said the Trump administration and Devos have sided with the for-profit sector over students since “day one.”

The education secretary criticized the rule, saying it “puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs” and called it “a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools.”  A spokeswoman for Devos said the lawsuit is “ideologically driven.” Devos plans to establish a new committee to reconsider the issue completely.

for-profit school

Devos Halts Two Regulations on For-Profit Schools

The Department of Education will roll back two regulations from the Obama administration aimed to protect students and hold for-profit colleges more accountable. The U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos said, “Our mission in the student loan servicing procurement process is to provide high quality customer service to federal loan borrowers in a cost-efficient and effective manner.” She continued, adding “Unfortunately, this process has been subjected to a myriad of moving deadlines, changing requirements and lack of consistent objectives.”

The Department is reworking the “gainful employment” rule that was passed in 2010.  The rule required programs at for-profit higher education institutions and nondegree programs at community colleges to meet minimum requirements in relation to the debt-to-income rates of their graduates. Programs that consistently failed to meet the minimum requirements would potentially lose federal financial aid, thus risking closure. The rule was designed to weed out programs that burden students with unmanageable student loan debt and few quality job prospects.

The second rule, “borrower defense to repayment,” was intended to go in place this July.  The regulation was put into place to make it easier for students who said they were defrauded by their schools to get their loans potentially forgiven. Though the Department of Education has completely rescinded this rule, it did release a statement saying that the 16,000 borrower defense claims currently under review will be processed. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Devos said, “We are working with servicers to get these loans discharged as expeditiously possible. Some borrowers should expect to obtain discharges within the next several weeks.”

Several Democratic lawmakers quickly decried the moves. According to Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, “Her (Devos) actions to eliminate important protections in higher education will harm students and waste millions in taxpayer dollars.” Additionally, advocacy groups vowed to fight the new change. Harvard University’s Project on Predatory Student Lending vowed to “use all legal means” to combat the delay of the borrower defense rule.

Critics of the gainful employment rule are mostly for-profits, who say it unfairly singles them out, but does not punish underperforming programs at nonprofit institutions. Devos stated that prior rulemaking “missed an opportunity to get it right. The result is a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools, and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.” The department is planning to start drafting new regulations this October.