Today the Huffington Post features a story on Mitt Romney’s praising for-profit colleges for their affordability (Mitt Romney’s Rationale On For-Profit Colleges At Odds With Reality). Politics aside for a moment a commenter asked an interesting question:
For profit colleges are so great that how many of Mitt’s many kids went to one? Oh, they’re just for lower class people who can easily afford all that debt? How many for profit schools are in the top 100 of anything? Mitt seems like all sorts of ideas that take money from the lower half of the population and inject it into his people’s wallets. — ncsteeler
It’s a question that I had posed, rhetorically, many times. Last semester I tried to tackle a similar, answerable question (kids are not only off-limits but methodologically impossible) : How many for-profit colleges are led by graduates of for-profit colleges?
I found that of the 8 largest for-profit colleges only ONE is lead by someone who possesses a for-profit college degree. An excerpt from that paper:
Of the eight for-profits analyzed only three colleges are lead by presidents possessing a PhD. It is notable that two of those three for-profits are also the largest in the sector: University of Phoenix and Strayer University. The third, Argosy, is one of the few for-profits to confer PhDs. Two of the for-profit presidents do not have a degree higher than a bachelor’s degree and one has an MBA. Also notable is that the biography of the president of ITT Technical Institute could not be located and the president of the eighth entry, Corinthian College is currently without a president having chosen not to replace the leader who resigned in October 2011 under contentious circumstances resulting from a federal investigation. Of the eight for-profit presidents only one possesses a degree from a for-profit college: Craig D. Swenson of Argosy University who earned a PhD from for-profit Walden University.
This could offer some interesting fodder for how much the for-profit industry values their own degrees. For-profits aren’t just schools, they’re major employers. Do they hire their own graduates?