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When the president of your university makes six and a half million dollars a year…

… you know you’re a for-profit.

That’s what the guy who runs Phoenix University made last year. And who cares? He can give himself whatever he wants, even if graduation and student loan repayment and job placement rates are shit. Even if his entire industry is under major legal and federal government scrutiny for squalid recruitment practices and false claims.

In January 2009, a commenter at Insider Higher Ed – the thread is in response to an interview with Harold Shapiro, once president of Princeton and now chair of DeVry, another for-profit outfit – wrote this about horrid snooty non-profit universities and refreshingly egalitarian for-profits:

Consideration for and impeccable service to the customer is gradually becoming the market’s expectation in higher education. [H]igher education’s customers are losing their tolerance for prissy Mandarins.

And, you know, you hear this rhetoric a lot among the for-profits… Those non-profit snobs… Yet doesn’t $6.5 mil sound way more Mandarin than the few hundred thou Harvard’s Drew Faust takes in? Especially considering that she’s not too above it all to make sure she graduates almost every one of the people who pay her university’s tuition?

I mean we are not kidding around here! When Kaplan’s last CEO resigned in 2008, he “receive[d] his base salary, which was not disclosed, and incentives, in addition to $46 million related to the Kaplan stock option plan. Honoring the noncompete clause of his contract will net [him] an additional $30 million by November 2011.”


Anyway. As with the pharmaceutical industry, when it’s all about money, unsavory things can happen. Unattractive compromises tend to get made. Here are two recent examples.

‘s friend Jonathan sends her this Barron’s piece (scroll down) about the Washington Post’s relationship to Kaplan.

Even more striking, Stephen Burd at New America Foundation just went after the Chronicle of Higher Education for soft-pedaling its coverage of the for-profits, from some of whom it receives not only significant advertising revenue, but also conference sponsorship.

Burt tells his reader stuff about the for-profits that the Chronicle fails to mention.

Margaret Soltan, March 7, 2010 9:13AM
Posted in: conflict of interest

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6 Responses to “When the president of your university makes six and a half million dollars a year…”

  1. theprofessor Says:

    “Department officials are also planning to add teeth to the rules requiring for-profit colleges to show that graduates are finding ‘gainful employment’ in their fields of study and to regulations that forbid schools from willfully misleading prospective students.”

    Umm, we need to be VERY careful what we wish for. Change “for-profit” to “non-profit” and many, many institutions will be in a world of hurt, too.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Well, but non-profit university education has never been — at least should never have allowed itself to become — all about vocationalism, tp.

    In other words, the non-profit university — which is to say the university for almost all of its history — is about educating people in the liberal arts. If you want to guarantee that by the age of 20 you’ll get a job as a welder, forget college and go to welding school.

  3. theprofessor Says:

    It may not be about vocationalism at GWU, UD, but that is all it is about here, and 80%+ of the places out there. Of course, there are subversives who sneak the liberal arts thing in, but their deviance is tolerated only so far. A creative writing prof who told a room of freshmen that none of them was likely to ever make a living from writing fiction or poetry–but that becoming good writers would help them in myriad ways down the road–was scolded by Dean Cruella The Vile, for being too honest.

  4. University Diaries » Financial Short Sellers Bet on the Education that Sells You Short Says:

    […] free market is why for-profit university presidents make six million dollars a year, while Drew Faust makes $800,000 or so to run Harvard. Now you’re getting all snivelly […]

  5. University Diaries » There goes the business model. Says:

    […] UD’s been covering the industry for years and she can’t tell you how much of this crap she’s read. Ooh that elitist Harvard with its elitist president — whose salary, around $800,000, compares curiously with the typical salaries of her for-profit peers — from five to ten million dollars a year)… […]

  6. University Diaries » The way-classiest online for-profit tax-siphon, Phoenix U… Says:

    […] old days, government-money-funneling enabled its academic officers to make salaries in the tens of millions, but now – after destroying the lives of scores of dupes – the well is drying up. […]

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