Todd Nelson Reinstalled As Perdoceo CEO
The for-profit college company Perdoceo today named Todd Nelson as president and CEO, replacing Andrew Hurst, who resigned after less than two years in the job. Nelson had been the company’s executive chairman, and before that was Perdoceo’s CEO and president from 2015 to 2022.
The market analysis firm PAA Research responded with this tweet:
$PRDO CEO abruptly resigns and Todd Nelson, who sits on the Mount Rushmore of bad actors in the for-profit education space comes back in as CEO. If you know anything about the history of this company you know this is a really, really bad sign. @DaHalperin
— PAA Research (@ActAccordingly) November 17, 2023
Perdoceo is one of the nation’s largest taxpayer-funded for-profit college operations. The company, which in 2020 changed its name from Career Education Corp., has faced major law enforcement actions for predatory conduct. In 2019, the company entered into a $494 million settlement with 48 state attorneys general, plus the District of Columbia, over allegations that it engaged in widespread deceptive practices against students. Later that same year, Perdoceo agreed to pay $30 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission that its schools have recruited students through deceptive third-party lead generation operations. In each case, the company did not admit guilt.
Recent Perdoceo employees have told media outlets USA Today and Capitol Forum, as well as Republic Report, that company recruiters continue to feel pressure to make misleading sales pitches and to enroll low-income people into programs that aren’t strong enough to help them succeed. Some of those former employees also have spoken with federal investigators.
USA Today reported last year that the U.S. Department of Education, in December 2021, requested information from Perdoceo; the Department also asked Perdoceo to retain records regarding student recruiting, marketing, financial aid practices, and more. Perdoceo confirmed the probe, while seeming to minimize its significance, in a February 2022 SEC filing. Perdoceo also acknowledged in May 2022 that it received a request for CTU documents and information from the U.S. Justice Department.
The Department of Education provided AIU and CTU with more than $570 million in student grants and loans in the 2020-21 school year, the most recent year reported. But data released in the spring by the Department show that Perdoceo’s two schools, AIU and CTU, deliver poor results for students, with low graduation rates and graduate incomes and high levels of student debt.
Before joining Perdoceo, Nelson ran two of the other biggest for-profit colleges operations: the University of Phoenix and now-demised Education Management Corp. Both of those chains, like Perdoceo, ran into major law enforcement issues because of deceptive recruiting practices and other abuses that occurred on Nelson’s watch.
Nelson was sued in August for wrongful death by the parents of his daughter-in-law Tiffani Nelson, two years after she was found dead from what authorities ruled a suicide. Through his lawyer, he has denied the allegations.
SEC filings show that Nelson sold hundreds of thousands of shares of Perdoceo stock in August, starting on August 9, the day after Tiffani Nelson’s parents filed their lawsuit.
We reported in November 2022 that Nelson, as well as other top Perdoceo executives, were then selling heavy amounts of company stock, as Perdoceo potentially faced new risks because the Biden administration was increasing its oversight of the for-profit college industry. Moves by the Biden Department of Education to crack down on college misconduct, impose penalties for poor performance, and recoup from schools losses from student loan cancellations, are creating more risk for for-profit chains that engage in predatory behavior.