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 The rule protects students from predatory loans seen as fraudulent and was rescinded by the department in July, citing a federal lawsuit—filed by a group of for-profit colleges.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.
For a free HigherEd Direct trial click here!