A former top official in President Obama’s Department of Education is poised to become the chairman of the board at the parent company of the University of Phoenix, the for-profit college that has been a target of federal investigations.
Tony Miller, who served as deputy secretary of education from 2009 and 2013, will chair the board at Apollo Education once it is sold to several private equity firms in a deal announced this month, the Wall Street Journal editorial board reported.
Miller served as the No. 2 leader at the Department of Education during the time that the Obama administration targeted for-profit colleges like those owned by Apollo, imposing regulations on the institutions and launching investigations into them. The price of Apollo shares declined from $78 each the month Obama took office to less than $7 in recent days. The University of Phoenix’s enrollment has declined from half a million to under 180,000.
Miller will fall into the new role because the The Vistria Group, a Chicago private equity firm that he helps run with Obama’s close friend Marty Nesbitt, is one of the companies acquiring Apollo. Miller said in a statement that Apollo has accomplished "transformational work" and that he is committed to establishing the University of Phoenix as "the leading provider of quality higher education for working adults."
"For too long and too often, the private education industry has been characterized by inadequate student outcomes, overly aggressive marketing practices, and poor compliance. This doesn’t need to be the case," Miller said, according to a press release circulated by Apollo.
"We are committed to accelerating and enhancing efforts to establish University of Phoenix as the leading provider of quality higher education for working adults and to continue supporting the organization’s commitment to operating in a manner consistent with the highest ethical standards."
The University of Phoenix faced probes from the Education and Justice Departments last October spurred by its alleged dubious recruiting practices.