Betsy DeVos courts controversy with appointment of Georgian to key role

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reportedly naming a Georgian to a key position investigating fraud despite his tenure with a for-profit college chain accused of deceptive practices.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has undone many of policies and postures of the Obama White House. Her more congenial attitude toward for-profit colleges that overcharge and underserve students has prompted much criticism. This week’s news about a Georgia appointee to a key role in the Trump Administration is likely to dismay critics even more.

To lead the office within the U.S. Department of Education that oversees fraud, DeVos chose Georgian Julian Schmoke, who spent a chunk of his career with DeVry University, a for-profit college that eight months ago settled a $100 million lawsuit with the federal government for misleading students. Schmoke will lead the enforcement unit, which is empowered to combat fraudulent practices in higher education.

Julian Schmoke

For the last five years, Schmoke has been executive director for campus operations at West Georgia Technical College, a two-year public institution. Prior to that, he was with DeVry in several roles, including   associate program dean for the chain’s college of engineering and information sciences. Schmoke holds degrees from Dartmouth, Georgia Tech and Mercer.

Spending some time today reading about him, Schmoke brings a lot of skills to the mix, but has one major deficit; he spent years working for an institution that is the poster child for the very practices his new agency was created to weed out and punish.

In December, the Federal Trade Commission announced a $100 million settlement with DeVry Education Group, parent of DeVry University. Under the settlement, DeVry will pay $49.4 million in cash to be distributed to qualifying students who were harmed by the deceptive ads, as well as $50.6 million in debt relief. The debt being forgiven includes the full balance owed —$30.35 million— on all private unpaid student loans that DeVry issued to undergraduates between September 2008 and September 2015, and $20.25 million in student debts for items such as tuition, books and lab fees, according to the FTC.

According to a U.S. ED release today:

Dr. Julian Schmoke, Jr. is joining FSA to lead enforcement activities. In addition to a track record of successfully advocating for students for more than 20 years, he brings experience in higher education leadership, instruction and accreditation, including serving in an academic capacity at DeVry University, where he ensured the delivery of a quality education to students. Dr. Schmoke will lead a team focused on identifying, investigating and adjudicating statutory and regulatory violations of the federal student aid programs and on resolving borrower defense claims. Additionally, the team led by Dr. Schmoke will play a central role in coordinating efforts to prevent third-party companies associated with student aid programs from harming students, parents and borrowers.

Here is Schmoke’s bio from a mentoring site where he is on the board. An interesting point, while Schmoke’s LinkedIn profile – at least earlier today  — cites his tenure with DeVry, including as a visiting professor, this bio does not mention it at all: (Side note: His LinkedIn profile seems to have gone offline for a bit today.)

Dr. Schmoke has spent 18 years in industry and 19 years in education where he has worked as a coach, electronics engineer, business owner, college professor, Program Dean, Associate Provost, and currently as the Executive Director of the Carroll Campus at West Georgia Technical College.  His heart and passion to serve others can be seen from his volunteer work in his church as a Christian Education leader and a Trustee, the Heard County Chamber Board of Directors, various committees he serves on for the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, and as IT director and Advisory Board member of Every Woman Works, Inc., a non-profit that helps train and place women in jobs that are transitioning from prison, welfare, or drug dependency.  His behind the scenes work advising mentoring, and providing advocacy for student athletes at West Georgia Technical college has helped a number of young men and women move on to successful athletic and academic careers at four-year colleges.  He serves the college as co-director of ACE, an academic advising, counseling, mentoring, and social support program for students attending West Georgia Technical College.  He also serves the college as a Title IX civil rights investigator.

Dr. Schmoke’s research on the challenges that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds have completing college helps provide the fuel that drives his community service efforts.  His desire to fix anything (equipment, processes, or people) that is broken and “get it done” attitude and work ethic makes him a willing resource for the organizations he serves.

 

 

 

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USA&UK;,,JOBS

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BeOfService
BeOfService

I suppose it is possible that Mr. Schmoke was cringing the whole time he was working at DeVry, thinking, "This school is taking advantage of these poor kids, getting them signed up for huge loans when they are clearly unqualified for higher education...  I can't wait to get out of here!"  Somehow I doubt it though.  He spent a "large part of his career" there.  Seems likely his ethical standards are low.  

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Well he should at least see what fraud looks like!

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

I may have missed it, but where does it say that Schmoke was involved with the practices that resulted in the settlement with the FTC?   So now we're guilty by association?  Following that logic, if I were a medical doctor at Health South in charge of hospital operations, I should be condemned because the CFO and CEO played games with the financial statements.


I also find it amusing that the "education" folks on this blog turn their noses at "for profit" schools, but are blissfully ignorant when public universities and "non-profit" private universities load students with crippling debt while pushing them into economically worthless "[fill in the blank] Studies" degrees.  Newsflash:  they're all doing the same thing - chasing the tuition dollar.

Selective outrage, perhaps?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

It's official:

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a stronger approach to how Federal Student Aid (FSA) enforces compliance by institutions participating in the Federal student aid programs by creating stronger consumer protections for students, parents and borrowers against “bad actors." FSA is an office within the U.S. Department of Education.

“Protecting students has always been my top priority,” said Secretary DeVos. “This new approach will enhance our efforts on our oversight responsibilities, including enforcement against bad actors, such as illegitimate debt relief organizations, schools defrauding students and institutions willfully ignoring their Clery Act responsibilities.” 

Dr. A. Wayne Johnson, the new chief operating officer at FSA, recently began transforming the oversight function—broadening its scope, increasing its capacity and adopting a more sophisticated strategy—while adding several key senior executives to help lead and implement a more comprehensive, broader approach to the oversight of the federal student aid programs. 

“FSA recognizes that there are many quality institutions that participate in the Federal student aid programs, along with many third-party service providers that are committed to effectively administering and operating the programs,” said Dr. Johnson. “But FSA has an obligation to ensure that any organization affiliated with these programs understands its responsibilities and complies with Federal student aid statutes, regulations and other related consumer protection laws.” 

“We will not allow bad actors to harm students, parents, borrowers and taxpayers,” Dr. Johnson continued. “We will enforce what is right for students at every turn of their student aid life cycle, regardless of whether they are applying for, receiving or repaying aid.” 

Under Dr. Johnson’s direction, FSA has established an integrated system of complementary oversight functions to ensure compliance by all participating parties. Under this approach, oversight begins with proactive risk management to identify and mitigate risks before they pose a threat. These efforts are bolstered by comprehensive communications and executive outreach to ensure parties and their leadership understand their responsibilities, the consequences of non-compliance and appropriate remedies.

“We have amplified our outreach to program participants to ensure they understand these rules and their status,” said Dr. Johnson. “If we determine parties are out of compliance, we will use the authority delegated to the Secretary—and in turn to Federal Student Aid—to do right by students, borrowers and taxpayers, including bringing them into compliance or, if necessary, revoking their eligibility to participate in the student aid programs.” 

To support this work, FSA has added several new leaders across the organization in the areas of enforcement, outreach, communications, and risk management who bring a wealth of expertise to FSA and augment the experienced and committed staff already in place. 

Dr. Michael Dean is joining FSA as the chief enterprise risk officer. He will lead the team that proactively identifies, assesses and monitors risks enterprise-wide, including fraud-, cybersecurity- and compliance-related risks. Dr. Dean’s team works with senior leaders across FSA to effectively manage risks in order to fulfill FSA’s mission. 

The critical work of FSA’s compliance office will continue to be led by career veteran Chief Compliance Officer Robin Minor. Her team of nearly 400 oversight professionals monitors schools’ and other financial institutions’ compliance with Title IV laws and regulations. The compliance group conducts hundreds of institutional program reviews, resolves audits and performs other activities each year. The team will be working to communicate more frequently and proactively with schools and other institutions to enable these organizations to more quickly learn of the status of reviews and audit resolutions, as well as address any identified deficiencies more efficiently. 

Dr. Charles Patterson is joining FSA as the senior advisor for executive-level compliance and enforcement outreach. He will focus on communications with leaders at colleges and universities, as well as on outreach to university systems; higher education organizations; and other federal, state and local stakeholders with a shared interest in protecting students, parents, and borrowers. 

Dr. Julian Schmoke, Jr. is joining FSA to lead enforcement activities. In addition to a track record of successfully advocating for students for more than 20 years, he brings experience in higher education leadership, instruction and accreditation, including serving in an academic capacity at DeVry University, where he ensured the delivery of a quality education to students. Dr. Schmoke will lead a team focused on identifying, investigating and adjudicating statutory and regulatory violations of the federal student aid programs and on resolving borrower defense claims. Additionally, the team led by Dr. Schmoke will play a central role in coordinating efforts to prevent third-party companies associated with student aid programs from harming students, parents and borrowers. 

Chris Greene is returning to FSA to head the communications, outreach and customer experience teams. He brings nearly 20 years of student aid, government and communications experience to the organization and will be responsible for ensuring that FSA’s communications infrastructure serves the needs of all stakeholders. 

FSA will continue to offer in-person and web-based technical assistance to schools and will continue providing information, training and early intervention support directly to financial aid professionals to help schools meet their compliance obligations. 

FSA’s proactive work will continue to be informed by customer input—including, complaints and allegations of suspicious activity through the FSA feedback system, available at StudentAid.gov/feedback—and supported by coordination with other stakeholders, including accrediting bodies, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

I remember a decade ago talking with a former graduate student I had taught, who after much difficulty in finding a job in higher education took a faculty position at a local DeVry. (White, incidentally, for those below making racial comments.)  She was depressed and appalled at the ways in which she was expected to pass her students if she wished to keep her job.

alt2AJC
alt2AJC

@OriginalProf 

You mean like we do daily in public zip code schools across the state?

Wes30144
Wes30144

Que the Democrats calling him Uncle Tom in 3..2..

Astropig
Astropig

Agree. if you're a black person with any level of accomplishment,your biggest roadblock will be white people-White liberals that will tell you that you can only get ahead if you're the "right" kind of professional (liberal).You can only advance because of their good intentions.

Sagacious
Sagacious

It's taken many years to destroy our education system and it will not be changed quickly.  If America would only understand what is really going on.  The Big Lie has been told so often, few Americans even question it. 

Chuck_UGA
Chuck_UGA

DeVry notwithstanding, education in America is broken. And public education in Georgia is STILL very broken. In Gwinnett County for instance, apparently there is a financial crisis. Police, Parks, other departments all need money. So the County adjust property values upwards (natural progression) and does not role back the millage rate as in the past. So where does my 17.9% property tax increase go?! OH, IT GOES TO GWINNETT COUNTY SCHOOLS!!  OF COURSE!!  Public schools are all mismanaged, full of waste, fraud, abuse, theft and deception.  So what do our elected "school board" officials (what a joke) do?  Just throw more money at the problem!

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Trump still trying to get out of paying the $25 million for his fake-University?  Standard Trump tactic ('Art of the Deal') - change the subject when they find you guilty.  How many lawsuits are pending against this guy?  DeVos - who knows nothing about education - obviously given this job as a pay off for the $millions donated.  

alt2AJC
alt2AJC

@Ralph-43 

Secretary DeVos has donated millions of her own to schools and charities assisting disadvantaged students. But don't let that stop you from embarrassing yourself.

Can'o'corn
Can'o'corn

@alt2AJC she has also donated money to causes that would hurt lower class families and help privileged families by letting them receive vouchers for sending their kids to private schools......she doesn't exactly smell like a rose...but like you said don't let that stop you......

Astropig
Astropig

@aheadabove @alt2AJC @Ralph-43 

" She is just a cupcake."

Sexist, racist...God knows what else.If you undecideds out there are reading the remarks and the tone here,just keep them in mind the next time the press and the "progressives" try to tell you how "tolerant" they are.

redweather
redweather

Devry has changed its name again and is now known as Adtalem.  It's active in Brazil where I assume it will be business as usual.

alt-ajc.4
alt-ajc.4

It's indefensible that limiting of choices for parents and students remains the goal of teachers' unions. And of those journalists still carrying water for them.

Falcaints
Falcaints

@alt-ajc.4 What teacher unions?  Do you have original thoughts or do you just repeat what  you hear on Faux News?

Blynne Roberts
Blynne Roberts

Knew the "bad penny" would show up soon doing "Up To NO Good Stuff"....

Astropig
Astropig

Racist attack on a highly qualified individual.


Shameful.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Astropig Julian Schmoke sounds like a smart guy, but not the best choice, given his tenure at DeVry, to now head an agency dedicated to ferreting out wrongdoing by for-profit colleges. 

taylor48
taylor48

I had no idea that working for DeVry Institute was a position held only by members of a certain race.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Astropig A lot of folks are using the word "shameful," but in the context of hiring a former leader of a for-profit chain that agreed to pay $100 million for defrauding students.

If you think questioning the hiring of Schmoke is shameful, why not read the accounts of students who spent tens of thousands at DeVry and got nothing. 

(By the way, a lot of that money belongs to you and other U.S. taxpayers -- DeVry was among the five colleges in the country with the highest rate of defaults on federal student loans.) 

http://time.com/money/3426618/student-loan-default-factories/