September 24, 2012

EDMC Professors and Students Speak: How Lobbyists & Goldman Sachs Ruined For-Profit Education

Professor Lorna Hernandez is, as of last Thursday, free of the for-profit Art Institutes and her faculty number there, 13124. Photo illustration: Lorna Hernandez.

Lorna Hernandez taught graphic design and animation for eighteen years at a for-profit college, The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, until she quit, last Thursday.

Unlike some of her faculty colleagues, Hernandez, chair of the school’s animation department, was not laid off in last month’s major downsizing by Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp. (EDMC), the publicly-traded corporation that owns her school. But Hernandez says she “saw the writing on the wall”: She believed more firings were ahead, and the school’s quality standards, in her view, were rapidly declining.

For the past couple of years I’ve been puzzled by the Art Institutes.

On the one hand, there is significant evidence that EDMC, which is 41 percent owned by the Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs, has engaged in the kind of predatory practices of the worst for-profit colleges — deceptive and coercive recruiting, exorbitant prices, high dropout and loan default rates. The  U.S. Justice Department and half a dozen states have sued EDMC  — the second largest for-profit college company after the University of Phoenix / Apollo Group — for fraud, alleging the company paid its recruiters based on the number of students signed up, in violation of federal rules. (A federal judge has dismissed some claims while allowing part of the case to go forward; EDMC CEO Edward West told an investor conference last week that the company complied with the law and is confident it will prevail.)  The Attorneys General of Florida and New York are investigating EDMC schools for alleged misrepresentations to students and state authorities about matters including costs, financial aid, job placement rates, and accreditation. Kentucky’s Attorney General is suing the company over alleged recruiting abuses.

As revelations about for-profit college abuses have increased, EDMC has seen its stock plunge faster than most of its competitors; a stock that traded as high as $43 in 2006, and $28 at the end of 2011, plummeted to $2.84 this summer. Student enrollments are also down significantly.

And last month, the company took steps to lay off about 800 employees nationwide. Which propelled Art Institute students from across the country to join a petition, “EDMC / Goldman-Sachs: End the control by the Corporate Overlords and SAVE OUR EDUCATION!” And which convinced Lorna Hernandez, who had witnessed the steady decline of her school, to quit.

But for Hernandez, for many years the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale was a great place to teach and learn. “It was glorious,” she told me.  “And I was proud.”

And that’s the other side of the EDMC story. I have known Art Institutes faculty who are outstanding teachers and practitioners. I visited one school a few years ago and saw a serious, dedicated faculty in action. I know that many students of these teachers have obtained great jobs in visual arts, television and film, and the music industry. When I ran the organization Campus Progress, we strongly supported a remarkable young cartoonist named Matt Bors, who earlier this year was presented at the Library of Congress with the Herblock Prize for excellence in editorial cartooning and was the runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize.  Matt is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

So is the Art Institutes a scam school or a real school? After some investigation, I think the answer is this: The Art Institutes was a for-profit college that often worked, that genuinely helped many students to train for successful careers. But then, mostly during the George W. Bush Administration, the for-profit college industry aggressively lobbied Washington to eliminate any kind of accountability for schools receiving federal tax dollars. In 2002, the Bush Administration gutted enforcement of rules to prevent abusive recruiting practices. In 2006, Congress, ratifying the wishes of for-profit college lobbyists and their allies in the Bush Administration, allowed colleges that provide most their instruction online to qualify for federal student aid.

Those changes, and an overall lack of standards, skewed the incentives for for-profit college companies. A race to the bottom — a race to maximize profits by short-changing students and taxpayers — ensued.  It propelled a decade of waste, fraud, and abuse with taxpayer dollars by this industry, which now hauls in about $32 billion a year in federal aid.

EDMC and the Art Institutes took a huge infusion of Wall Street cash and joined in, and in the process have trashed their own institution.  Lorna Hernandez says the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale was “wonderful” when she started in 1994, until, a couple years later, EDMC become a publicly-traded company. It got much worse, she says, after EDMC sold itself to a group of private equity investors, with Goldman, for $3.4 billion in 2006.  And today it gets worse every month.

Faculty, staff, and students who have lived through this decline have paid the price. Now, they are speaking out.

Jacquelyn Muller, EDMC’s Vice President for Communications / PR, responded to one of my multiple phone and email messages last week and agreed to talk. I emailed her specifics of allegations made by EDMC faculty and students, but she never got back to me with comments on behalf of her company.

A giant taxpayer-funded company

EDMC operates 109 campuses spread across 32 states, along with an online division, and had over 151,200 enrolled students as of October 2011. About 53 percent are at the 51 campuses of the Art Institutes, which offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s programs in fields including graphic design, media arts and animation, web development, film and video production, culinary arts, fashion, and interior design. EDMC also operates: Argosy University, which offers doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s programs in behavioral sciences, health sciences, business, and education; Brown Mackie Colleges, which provides associate’s and non-degree programs to train for entry-level jobs in several fields; South University, which offers a range of degree programs; and Western State University College of Law.

EDMC reported revenues of $2.76 billion for fiscal year 2012. Most of that money comes from you and me.  Senator Tom Harkin’s Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee calculates that 77.4 percent of of EDMC’s 2010 revenue came from U.S. Department of Education student financial aid.  If you add in military and veterans aid money, then 80 percent of EDMC revenue comes from taxpayer money.

The impact of Wall Street money

EDMC was founded in 1962 and began offering professional development programs in Pennsylvania.  In 1970, the company acquired the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which had been in operation since 1921.

Robert B. Knutson joined EDMC in 1969 and became president in 1971.  An Art Institutes professor recalls once meeting Knutson at an EDMC event.  The professor described Knutson as serious, smart, a good guy, committed to education. Lorna Hernandez, the Fort Lauderdale professor, says Knutson was “a wonderful man who actually cared.” Stephen Burd of Higher Ed Watch has written, “Knutson built the company deliberately, with a steady focus on its long-term success, rather than just on its short-term profits.”

But Knutson presided over repeated acquisitions of other schools that made the company bigger and bigger. Growth ultimately led to a public stock offering and, in 2006, the takeover of the company by Goldman Sachs and its private equity partners.

Robert Knutson retired as EDMC’s chairman the same year as the Goldman buyout. Promoted to chairman was John R. McKernan, Jr., who had been hired as EDMC’s CEO in 2003.  (McKernan, a Republican former Governor of Maine, is married to Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).)  McKernan was replaced as CEO in early 2007 by Todd S. Nelson, who had previously been CEO of the nation’s biggest for-profit college company, Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix. Nelson had led Phoenix to dramatic growth — tripling revenues between 2001 and 2006, to $2.4 billion. But he departed in a hurry in 2006 after Apollo paid $9.8 million to settle a U.S. Department of Education complaint that the company had engaged in systematic recruiting violations.

The Goldman Sachs deal had created enormous pressure to make money fast.  EDMC’s former chief financial officer, who retired soon after the buyout, told Senator Harkin’s staff in 2010: “You take on that amount of private-equity debt, you need to earn high rates of return for these investors, I was worried that the quality of the experience for employees and students was going to deteriorate.”

It sure did. In a major investigative piece last year in the Huffington Post, Chris Kirkham described how EDMC admissions and recruiting changed once Goldman bought its stake:

After the deal closed and Goldman became a partner, employees soon noticed a drastic shift in culture. Longtime admissions managers were replaced, ushering in an era in which recruiters were endlessly hounded by supervisors about hitting weekly enrollment targets. The admissions staff nearly tripled, requiring expanded floor space to accommodate a sales force of more than 2,600 across the country.

Management handed down revamped telemarketing scripts designed to prey on poor and uneducated consumers, honing in on their past mistakes in life as a ploy to convince them that college would solve all their problems….

Under Nelson’s new leadership, enrollment and profits at EDMC skyrocketed further. The number of online recruits in particular grew at an astronomical rate, increasing fivefold between 2006 and 2009, after deregulation allowed the company’s classrooms to become completely virtual….

Employees recounted a distinct culture shift once the company went private under Goldman Sachs and the other private equity investors, as day-to-day operations warped from a commitment to students and their success into an environment laser-focused on hitting mandated enrollment targets. New recruits were viewed simply as a conduit for federal student assistance dollars, the employees said, and pressure mounted from management to enroll anyone at any cost.

In search of more cash, EDMC became a public company once again in 2009, raising $330 million in a public stock offering.  Private, then public, private again, public again (and now facing speculation that it could revert a third time to private ownership), EDMC’s downward spiral, in terms of treatment of students, has accelerated. According to the Justice Department’s August 2011 complaint in its suit against the company, EDMC “has created a ‘boiler room’ style sales culture and has made recruiting and enrolling new students the sole focus of its compensation system.” The New York Times summarized the federal allegations:

Recruiters were instructed to use high-pressure sales techniques and inflated claims about career placement to increase student enrollment, regardless of applicants’ qualifications. Recruiters were encouraged to enroll even applicants who were unable to write coherently, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs or who sought to enroll in an online program but had no computer. According to the suit, recruiters were also led to exploit applicants’ psychological vulnerabilities — for example, a parent’s hopes of moving a child out of a dangerous neighborhood.

McKernan stepped down as EDMC’s chairman last month. Todd Nelson moved up to chairman, and Edward West, the president and chief financial officer, became the new CEO.

The impact on campus – the professor

Lorna Hernandez observed a slide in standards at the Art Institutes of Fort Lauderdale after the initial public offering in 1996. But it got much worse after the 2006 Goldman takeover. “That’s when education took second place to profit, pure profit,” she says.

Hernandez witnessed “a rapid decline in the quality of the students” because the admissions department was “desperate for new students.”  The new students — low-income, veterans, and others — were surely deserving of opportunity. But many lacked qualifications and preparation, and putting them in overpriced programs — the Art Institute cost students around $78,000 in tuition and fees for a four-year degree, around four times the cost of Florida State University — where they could not keep up, was no opportunity at all. More and more students had post-traumatic stress syndrome, even brain injuries, but faculty received no training in how to work with students with such conditions. Hernandez says there were students who were violent and difficult to manage.

In late 2011, the president of the Fort Lauderdale campus was pushed out and a new president named, a former official at the University of Phoenix.  A faculty committee had voted 7-2 against hiring him, but in the end the only vote that counted was corporate management. According to Hernandez, the new president’s arrival ushered in a new era of dramatic cost reductions — in her words, “cut, consolidate, don’t question.”  She charges that the administration was cutting the school’s budget in “desperate and nonsensical ways” — reducing the quality of toilet paper and paper towels, not buying staples for staplers. The school was selling its computers, closing its print center.  Half of the technical staff was let go. Academic advisors were laid off. Adjunct professor pay was cut.

Hernandez concluded that the school was looting its own assets for cash, because the company knew it would soon be worthless.

In Fort Lauderdale, only one area was beefed up — the hiring of additional admissions staff.  Recruiters were calling the same prospective student six times in a single day. One classroom was converted into an additional boiler room for recruiting.

Since the Goldman takeover, Hernandez says, school officials had pressured her to make sure students passed her classes, even if they couldn’t do the work.  She went along, but this year, she could take no more.  She felt could not in good conscience pass one particular student. He contested a failing grade. Management pushed her. That’s when she decided to retire.

“Pure corporate greed,” says Hernandez, “has destroyed something that was so viable and so wonderful in terms of education”

Meanwhile faculty nationwide were summoned to a mandatory online ethics class — with opening remarks by EDMC head Todd Nelson.

Other professors report similar conditions.

Jeremy Dehn taught film production at EDMC’s Art Institute of Colorado from 2008 to 2010.  Near the end of his time there, he published an op-ed in the New York Times sharply criticizing the school and concluding, “We need to quit subsidizing for-profit colleges.” Dehn told me that his classes had an “insane mix” of students, some talented, some with no aptitude at all, some who could barely read and needed more remedial courses.

This wide range of ability levels in a single class made it very difficult to teach, pulling down those students who were able to do the work. He says the federal government is “pissing the money away” by sending student aid to for-profits like the Art Institutes when many state schools “have no money.”

Dehn also says that while tuition at the Art Institute was much higher than state schools, adjunct professors like him were paid significantly less at the for-profit school than at area private non-profit and public colleges

Another professor, who teaches at a campus of EDMC’s Brown Mackie college, reports that in March 2012 many faculty members there were demoted from full-time staff to adjunct teachers, their salaries reduced and health benefits taken away. At the same time, the school recently raised tuition; a two-year associate’s degree at Brown Mackie costs students around $30,000, compared to $6000 at many community colleges. This professor says recruiters at the school target the most vulnerable local populations with misleading, high-pressure sales calls. She has heard them lie to prospective students about the possibility of transferring credits to other schools in the future. Speaking to each other, these recruiters refer to the students as “packages.” Because the school “wants bodies,” she says, it will accept virtually any applicant, leading to enrollment of many students who are unable to do the work. Class sizes are increasing. The school’s sole job placement staffer manipulates facts — and students — to certify adequate placement rates. Like the Art Institutes professors I spoke with, this Brown Mackie teacher believes that EDMC is “trying to squeeze as much as they can” from the asset before it collapses.

The impact on campus – the student

Vaughn Reynolds applied to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 2002 out of high school. He wanted to do an illustration program — to study painting. Art Institute staff told him that the school’s illustration program was not available yet but would be by the next academic quarter. They urged him to enroll in the graphic design program, which they said would offer the same initial classes as illustration. They told him the same thing for the next three quarters. By then, he says, “I was taking the wrong courses.” So Reynolds left and joined the Air Force, serving in Germany and Iraq, and then served in the Air National Guard in Tampa.

When he was ready to return to school, Reynolds considered attending another school, perhaps one with lower costs. He quickly discovered that the credits he earned at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, a school that lacked regional accreditation, did not transfer to most other schools.  So he returned in 2011, only to have his main academic advisor soon eliminated by a layoff.  Witnessing the severe cutbacks in faculty and educational resources, he sees the school in serious decline.  He says many of the teachers, a lot of who were hired well before the Goldman takeover, are “absolutely phenomenal.”  But EDMC management, he believes, has another objective than educating students. “They’re trying to burn our school to the ground,” he says. He says that the campus president and the administration “don’t tell students the truth.”

So Reynolds launched the online petition at He seeks to unite Art Institutes students at various campuses in opposition to the teacher layoffs, and to educate students and the public about the impact of Wall Street ownership of colleges. The petition has more than 2800 supporters so far.  A related Facebook group has over 1800 members.

The success story?

The day after his 29th birthday, Matt Bors speaks confidently from the stage of the a conference of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, getting laughs and appreciative questions from the audience at the George Washington University.  Many of the nation’s leading editorial cartoonists are here, most of them much older.  Bors is a star at this event, one of the funniest, most insightful, most uncompromising cartoonists out there, and one of the first from independent media to be recognized for top honors.  He is a pioneer of a new comics journalism that reports from the street; he himself has traveled to Afghanistan and Haiti on assignment. He runs the innovative Cartoon Movement website.  When he accepted the Herblock Prize a few months ago from presenter Garry Trudeau, Matt stole his own show in front of an establishment crowd with a heartfelt but hard-hitting speech.  Matt is a big deal.

At lunch after his appearance at the GW conference, Matt and I talked about the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which he attended from 2001 to 2003, earning an associate’s degree.  He had graduated from high school in Canton, Ohio.  His father sold truck parts, his mother was a waitress, no one in his family had ever earned a college degree. Matt wanted to be a cartoonist, but his parents wanted him to get some training in case that path didn’t work out.

Remarkably, Matt reported almost the same experience as Vaugh Reynolds had had in Ft. Lauderdale.  He wanted to enroll in an illustration program, and he was told one would be available by the next year. Meanwhile, school officials said, he would get the same needed courses by starting in the graphic design program.  But when Bors graduated, there was still no illustration program.  While he says some of the teachers were good, he learned little at the school that helped him with his career — in part because he never got the program in illustration he had been promised.

Bors says that many of the students in his classes had no talents to speak of, and it was clear that they would not be able to get jobs as artists or designers.  He realized, from comparing notes with friends that the graphic design program at Kent State in Ohio, that not only was that public university much more affordable, it was also much more selective, accepting only students who had aptitude for the work. It was apparent to Bors that the Art Institute had no such standards.

After graduation, Bors planned a move to the West Coast. He looked at continuing his studies toward a bachelor’s degree at more affordable public colleges, but learned, like Reynolds, that his Art Institute credits would not transfer. If he wanted a BA, he would have to stick with the Art Institutes or start all over.

The only lasting legacy of his Art Institute experience was $42,000 in student loans.  Over nine years, Bors has managed to pay off the $10,000 of that for which he took responsibility, but his parents have continued to borrow money and still owe most of the remaining $32,000.

What EDMC has become 

The effect of EDMC’s decline is felt across its campuses.

Information that EDMC provided to the Senate HELP committee indicates that of the 78,661 students who enrolled at EDMC-owned colleges in 2008-9, 62.1 percent, or 48,840 students, dropped out as of mid-2010.

When the U.S. Department of Education measured colleges this summer, under its new “gainful employment” rule, to determine which schools — because of high prices, low graduation rates, and poor job placement outcomes — left large numbers of students with unmanageable debt, 17 out of 180 programs at the Art Institutes that were surveyed flunked all three prongs of the test, whose standards are almost absurdly low.

At a 2010 HELP committee hearing, Kathleen Bittel, a former recruiter and career counselor for EDMC, testified about the disparity between the size of the school’s recruitment staff and its  job placement staff:

I see a systemic problem here when there are only nine employees servicing the students that are being recruited by an admissions workforce of almost 1600. Career Services employees are being paid nearly a third of what the top performers in the admissions department receive. I believe these facts speak volumes as to where the real priorities lie within these companies.

Bittel testified that EDMC placement staff had to meet quotas for successful job placement of students. They succeeded only by manipulating the information, she said.

There remains one area where EDMC serves students better than many for-profit college businesses — teaching. The Senate HELP committee found that, at least as of 2010, EDMC “had far more full-time faculty than similarly sized for-profit education companies and likely more vibrant faculty involvement in academics.”  The committee also found that EDMC spent $3,460 per student on instruction in 2009, compared to $4,158 per student on marketing and $3,460 per student on profit, “one of the highest instructional expenditures amongst large publicly traded for-profit education companies.”  Some for-profits spend as little as $900 to $1000 annually on instruction.

But being a leader in spending on education among for-profit colleges isn’t saying much; non-profit and public colleges generally spend much more on instruction. For example, according to the HELP committee, Penn State spends $16,507 per student on instruction, the University of Pennsylvania $38,974, and Community College of Allegheny County, whose tuition is a small fraction of the Art Institutes’s, $4,173. Moreover, it seems EDMC’s relative emphasis on instruction may be a remnant of a time when the company leadership was truly committed to helping students build careers — a remnant that is rapidly fading.

For a sense of the leadership’s spending priorities now, as it lays off its faculty, sells its computers, stops purchasing staples, and watches its stock price plummet, consider this:

  • Then-President (and now CEO) Edward West received $1,551,802 in compensation for 2009, $5,486,905 in compensation for 2010, and $6,355,982 in compensation for 2011.
  • Then-CEO (and now Chairman) Todd Nelson  received $1,812,996 in compensation for 2009, $3,804,121 in compensation for 2010, and $13 million in compensation for 2011.

For-profit higher education could help our people and our economy — if the federal financial aid system were structured so that schools earned higher profits by actually helping students, not by ripping them off. President Obama’s administration has pursued serious reforms to move in that direction. Unfortunately, millions of dollars worth of aggressive lobbying and lawyering by EDMC and other for-profit colleges has weakened some of these new rules.  (Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has praised for-profit colleges as modest-priced innovators, received major contributions from industry executives, and pledged to reverse the Obama reforms.) But intensifying media attention and public debate on for-profit college abuses has recently steered many students and investors away from the sector.

Late last week, as EDMC’s market value continued to shrink, Reuters reported on the growing risk that the company “may breach debt covenants and be forced to refinance on expensive terms.” At the investor conference earlier this month, West said the company is “looking at ways to continue to free up more cash flow.”  When asked whether EDMC can “survive” in its current form,  West said “absolutely.” He said the company would do so through “enrollment stabilization,” i.e. through getting more students signed up and their checks deposited.


This piece also appears on Huffington Post.

  • Mike HeXt

    Great work on this, David. It definitely covers many of the bases. There’s one more piece you need on this. In that time, SallieMae was working with EDMC to milk the fed and private loans out of students to game 90/10 prior to the healthcare bill and GI BILL changes. Sallie Mae is just as guilty of fueling this fraud fest.

  • crepusculartx

    This is an actual
    assignment for a doctoral level class. I’ll let you be the judge of the adequacy
    of this student for a loan for her education.

    This was the “post” or one of two assignments each week.
    It was given an “A”. The Class was L7101. Please read it carefully and decide if
    this person is worthy of getting your tax dollars for education, if this school
    is doing this person a service by allowing them entrance and sustaining them in
    school, and if this student might ever become employed, at the doctoral level,
    in anything but a workfare program?Do you think that a school that allows this
    student entrance and allows this student to be deluded that they are “doctoral”
    material is a rip off con job?

    By the way, all five of the sources are to be cited in
    APA style, they are none as you can see and yet this student received an

    “Using theInternet, find at least five resources by
    Robert Quinn and Peter Vaill. Almost all of their leadership literature suggests
    that exemplary leaders musttransform themselves before they can effectively lead
    and motivate anorganization. Respond to this suggestion drawing upon at least
    3-5peer-reviewed references. In a Word document, compare and contrast
    yourpersonal style with the following leadership practices discussed in Kouzes
    andPosner:Model the way. Enable others to act. Encourage the heart. How do
    yourleadership practices differ from the ones discussed in Kouzes and
    Posner?Discuss how you plan to decrease the differences. How will you
    incorporatethese practices into your personal leadership style? Develop personal
    changestrategies to incorporate these leadership practices into your
    personalleadership style.

    Module 6 Discussion Question 1Model the way:

    I really don’t have one leadership style I try to be
    veryflexible. In my leadership role I try to encourageeveryone. I don’t
    believe in the words I can’t because I know aperson can do the impossible if
    they put fourth an effort. Thereare times I would like to quit but I realize
    that you must talk the talk awalk the walk. You must be self motivated and be
    able to motivateothers in an organization. As a leader the main time you stop
    modelingthe way that’s when you realize how many people were modeling them
    selvesafter you. As a mother of six I must set the example. Myeldest daughter
    when I went to college and graduated she told me she wasgoing to do the same
    thing. Many times she wanted to give up but Iencouraged her that she could do
    anything she put her mind to. Enabling others toact: I was told that Icould be
    hard at times but I had to learn not to show favoritism. Toget a team to work
    together can be difficult but by giving everyone the sameinformation and keeping
    an open line of communication every thing will cometogether. Within the church
    I have people working in positions they hadnever worked in before many would
    complain that they are not prepared but bymotivating them they would do the job
    and it would always turn out betterthan what they expected. Believe it or not
    but they would come and tellme thank you for believing in them. Many times
    people can see what youcan achieve before you do. There were two ladies that
    wanted to do fundraisers around the same time. One came and was complaining
    that theother lady was trying to hinder her project. After explaining to her
    thatthey had to different project in two locations I told do what you can
    andallow her to do hers, and it was going to turn out better the sheexpected
    and it did. Getting to know their personality typeshelps a lot also. Within
    the church I try to encourage as many peopleas I can to stay in school and to
    take classes in the local college becauseyou don’t know what you can do until
    you do it. In essence what I am sayingis support you worker ideas and actions
    build their confidence level up intheir abilities and integrity them motivate
    them and pay attention to theirfeelings. Encourage the heart: First you must
    find theirstrengths and build on them. We all have weakness but don’t allow
    theweakness to weigh you down build on them. Reward your employees in words
    andgifts this builds trust and lets them know how much you appreciate them.
    Oncethey take on a project I don’t interfere with it if they ask my onion
    thenand only them do I give it. If something doesn’t work out I don’t beatthem
    up with it because I see it as a part of the learning process. There will be
    times thing want work in your, favor but learn from

    • I would say proably no. My question what do you do to get the education you want? I want to one of the art institues and I told them I had a learning disablity. They said it was okay and keep going well as expected with no tutors no support for me I was left adrift. The teachers even said at my final portfolio review he isnt ready. Well yeah they didnt have aquate faculities and things to help me with. Instead they just passed me along in the system since its more profitable to have students quit then succedeed in there careers.

  • I graduated in 1996 with a Desktop Publishing (Graphic Design) degree from Ai FL. This was AFTER getting a BFA from the University of Florida. I feel it was still a quality school at the time and many of its instructors competent and caring. It is heartbreaking to see what has become of the Art Institute as a result of corporate greed.

  • BeliTsari

    I attended AIP, during High School years. Great, succinct, insight-filled synopsis of speculator’s effect on industry. Once American capital learned to stop marketing products and performing services and started ‘making money’ instead. Those of us trapped in Pittsburgh watched one after another industrial giants run into the ground (or overseas) by these dead-eyed, soulless, churlish vermin; soon we’ll have one of the worst, most idiotic, platinum spoon corporate raiders as President? Oh well… at least Art Institute used actually to be fun in the 60’s, when they had actual classrooms and experienced, involved and qualified instructors and pretty outrageous student body.

  • George Sebolt

    EDMC also cut over 4000 jobs in 2011. Goldman Sachs has trashed a once fine school system.

  • Pingback: SAVE OUR EDUCATION!!! « McMinn Photography()

  • cheryl leone

    On October 3rd, 2012 I resigned from The Art Institute of Philadelphia. I started teaching at AiPH in 1999 . I was also the Faculty Federation President. All of the comments recorded in this piece and quoted by Lorna Hernandez I agree with totally. She is right on!!! I too experienced students who were accepted into AiPH who could not perform in the program offered at Aiph. I got tired of wittnessing students just passing through the system and not gaining the knowledge required to comply with the Art Institute’s mission statement. If a faculty member starts with students who are not able to read or write and have emotional problems who can’t follow instructions and faculty are not trained to work with this kind of student then the outcome in my opinion is doomed.

    In recent lay-offs at AiPH 23 staff and administrators were laid off. One year ago at AiPH the Academic Affairs Department employeed 43 employees. This department now employees 23. The 23 employees left do the job they were initially hired for and any other job. Last week I spoke to such a person and said they have had to do around 12 different tasked and could not possibly do all competently.

    Academic Directors of the various programs were laid off and were advised to reapply for their position. Instead of having 8 departments there would be 5 areas. Some of the A.D.s would be reduced to a Project Coordinator position. Yet they will basically do the same job as A.D. Since they had to reapply the probablity of less pay would be great since they were laid off and the project coordinator is a lower position.

    Enrollment is down at AiPH so one can expect lay-offs. In my opinion the reason for these lay offs is the way the business rans. GREED and taking advantage of the “poor” so bonuses can be given to the top. This company is not about education it is about making a profit from anyone who can sign a contract.

    Facutly at AiPH are protected under the collective bargaining agreement. Other schools under EDMC with the exception of New York have little to no protection. Part Faculty at AiPH do receive health care benefits because we have negotiated for that benefit but as per your article other EDMC part time faculty do not. We have caps on classes, tuition benefits, faculty development, sabbaticals, etc. The contract is very comprehensive .

    This was a GREAT Company to work for when I started. Plenty of classes and good students. 2006 it started to go down hill and it doesn’t look good.

  • Pingback: Why Education Failed | Mikes Post()

  • Pingback: Controversial For-Profit College Industry Using Your Tax Dollars To Support Romney Victory | Republic Report()

  • Pingback: Controversial For-Profit College Industry Using Your Tax Dollars to Support … « Oil & Gas()

  • Pingback: David_Halperin: Controversial For-Profit College Industry Using Your Tax Dollars to Support Romney Victory | USA Press()

  • Pingback: Socialist Webzine: David_Halperin: Controversial For-Profit College Industry Using Your Tax Dollars to Support Romney VictorySocialist Agenda Webzine()

  • Connie

    All I can say is WOW! What a great article on this insidious industry. The for-profit college industry used to be respectable until the private equities realized the billions to be made. Now, many formerly respectable schools are nothing more than diploma mills and along with the students, we, the taxpayers, are also victims.

  • Pingback: As Mass. AG Probes Vanished For-Profit College, Senators Call for Broad Review | Republic Report()

  • Pingback: If A For-Profit College Becomes a Non-Profit, Is That Good? Not Necessarily | Republic Report()

  • Pingback: David_Halperin: If A For-Profit College Becomes a Non-Profit, Is That Good? Not Necessarily | USA Press()

  • Anonymous

    I’m enrolled at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh online division and find the teachers excellent, and what I learn to equal what I’ve done as a Graphic Designer in the Printing Industry, just signed up to finish off a degree. What bothered me the most is they dropped me from my senior standing from my former college to a Sophomore, and have had to take courses that are repeating things I’ve already studied in former college work, so I see the corporate greed side at work, and hope that the lawsuits will settle the problem with The Art Institutes, that the responsible people with out ethics are rooted out, and jailed for criminal theft as an example to corporations that individuals with responsibility can and will be held liable, both criminally and ethically.

    This makes me weigh them in the balance, what I have learned that wasn’t repeat material has been excellent, but if the school looses credibility ethically speaking, will the time spent to finish off a degree be as valuable as earning a degree from a college with a great ethical reputation, not just a great academic reputation. Both are important in my work as a Graphic Designer, and should hold true for the institutions that train students as well.

    • Well I hope you got out. I was going to go there and want to a art institue closer to where i lived that was still a big mistake

  • Pingback: David_Halperin: As Mass. AG Probes Vanished For-revenue faculty, Senators call for wide evaluation()

  • Disturbed at The Art Institute

    In addition there is no clear message to the students on how much they will owe when they graduate. I know students that owe in excess of $125,000 and then can’t find a job in their industry because they received an inferior education.

  • I was screwed royally and they let me down big time!

  • Roadknight

    Except that the Ai schools (Art Institute of Philadelphia in particular) has been screwing students over far longer than the Bush admin.I would even go so far to say even further back than EDMC. I graduated there in ’98 in the (what I was told was) Nighttime Adult program. All that really meant was they offered classes at night. There was nothing special set up for working adults. When signing up I was told “we are one of the few schools that Disney actively recruits from. We are the only school that has real professional equipment including a multi-plane animation table. ” Disney only ever sent a background artist to speak to us and after seeing our portfolios told us that we were being taught exactly what the industry DOESNT want to see. And the “table”? It sat in a closet the entire 2 1/2 years I was there ,gathering dust, never used. I have since found out that my suspicions were correct and that many of the teachers were not there to teach but were artists who just wanted paychecks between jobs. Many times my work was evaluated by a student volunteer in my own grade level. Worst one was the teacher who was supposed to be teaching us 3d Studio max ,in fact NEVER even touched the program before and had no experience in using it. Many times teachers did not even attend the last weeks of semesters. I could go on and on. There were a few dedicated teachers who gave a damn about their students and actually knew what they taught but they were few and far between. The more typical was yet another teacher in another 2d class,walked in the first day and said, “I don’t know how this computer program works. I told them I cant teach it. I cant help you. Good luck.” The biggest evidence of how bad this school is was just after I graduated,during the 6 months time they were supposed to be helping you find a job. The first counselor who was to help sent me to greeting card company 2 hours away for a filing job for minimum wage. I was an Animation Major with no teaching or experience in graphic design. So much for 2 1/2 years of ” You can find work anywhere. Companies are killing each other for animators. Starting pay is 16 dollars an hour!” That woman went out on maternity leave and they had no one doing that job for a month. The next woman who took over that position could have done a better job if she did nothing at all. I was then sent to Home Depot, a local framing store, and an art warehouse,(doing shipping for minimum wage). They even had gall to send me to the retail company was working for at the time that I was trying to get out of, AFTER I told them there was nothing to do with animation there. I know the school cannot guarantee a job (even though I WAS told they had job placement at sign-up) and one has to start from the bottom but thats just ridiculous. Thats like graduating from Harvard with degree in law and working at Jiffy Lube or Mcdonalds or Starbucks as your first job for your law career. Never in the entire time did they send or set up anything remotely connected to the animation industry. Those types of jobs applied for on my own and either got turned down or never heard from again. I have since found out from various sources that AI has such a bad rep in the industry that most companies will automatically pass over any job applicant/portfolio that has mention of Art Institute in it. The point of all this is now years later my fellow former students and myself(none of my class made it still pay upon a huge loan for training and portfolio which cannot be trusted and has been completely useless. To claim AI and EDMC’s scam all started during Bush is BS. Bush and Co. may have made the problem worse but AI bilking its students goes way back beyond just last few years.

  • Wood

    I agree with the article. I also saw a clear culture change after GS took over. Under Nelson, education became secondary and money-making became priority. Good professors are not respected. Those who make some suggestions actually for the good of EDMC and students are ignored and sometimes even hated by the management of EDMC. For example EDMC forced students to buy electronic book for $50 each, saying students can use the book for 5 years. Actually, in most cases students need to use the book for only 3 months (a quarter). What is worse is students cannot sell the “electronic book” as used book. You can imagine if a student takes five courses in a quarter, he needs to pay $250. You can see how students are ripped off. Also, about on-line education, the instructor are not sure if it is really the “students” are taking the exam, or somebody else is taking the exam for the “student”. So long as the “student” pay all the tuition, EDMC would give him the diploma or certificate no matter the “student” is cheating or not. Faculty are so sad because they cannot speak out. They are afraid if they speak out, they will be fired or made part-time. Intellectuals are the conscience of society. If intellectual don’t dare to speak out, our country will go down fast.

  • Pingback: Arne Duncan's Last Best Chance to Save Students from Abusive For-Profit Colleges | Republic Report()

  • angie

    I am trying to find people to help me sue the art institute of colorado if interested please email me at [email protected]

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: Hay Day Hacks()

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: Trackback()

  • Pingback: anemonella bestripe asteroxylon()

  • sms

    I wish I had read this before I had enrolled in 2009. Now I am locked out of class, told my student loans have been maxed out, and with no future help from AI, was told if I can come up with the money to finish to contact them. Otherwise, good luck….so here I am, a working stiff, no degree, and a dry student loan account. No warning that “we need to figure something out because your loans are not going to get you through” I was working and going to school, knocking it out a class at a time because that is what I could do. What the heck am I suppose to do now. And no help from them, at all, aside from a “I’m sorry this happen, if you figure it out call us”…..isn’t that their job to help me figure out? I’m going to pay back student loans by working at a grocery store?

  • Pingback: Art School Confidential | In Terms Of()