Press article | News | Media

23.03.22

By:
David Hallerin

Source:

Republic Report

Top U.S. congressional leaders, including the chairs of the House Veterans Affairs, House Education and Labor, and Senate Judiciary Committees, have now called on the Department of Education to investigating Keizer University in Florida and its controversial conversion to nonprofit status — a deal that continued to enrich the school’s politically powerful “Chancellor and CEO,” Arthur Keizer.

The most recent, previously unreported letter to the department was from Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, as well as North Carolina Democratic Reps. Alma Adams and Kathy Manning. The three reps cited “long-standing concerns about Dr. Keizer’s conflicts of interest, personal dealings, and predatory practices” and called for “further review of Dr. Keiser’s record” as well as his conduct as a as Chairman of the National Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Education. on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI).

The NACIQI is an 18-member panel that advises the Department primarily by reviewing the performance of accreditors, the private agencies that oversee school quality and serve as gatekeepers for federal student grants and loans. Arthur Keizer was nominated to the NACIQI by congressional Republicans, who by law choose six of the committee members, and he was later elected chairman by the NACIQI members.

In their letter, Takano and colleagues call Keizer University’s conversion to a nonprofit “a prime example of a so-called ‘secret for profit.'” They cite the 2011 agreement under which Everglades College, a nonprofit institution headed by Arthur Keizer, agreed to pay $521 million to acquire the for-profit Keizer University, owned by Arthur Keizer, along with the tens of millions of payments that followed from the non-profit organization to Keizer and his family members.

The three representatives also express concern that at a NACIQI meeting in July 2021, Keizer recused himself from review by accreditor ACCSC, which oversees another for-profit school owned by Keiser, the Southeastern College, but then returned to the proceedings and “punishes[d] other NACIQI members for considering results information that is not directly provided by Ministry officials” when evaluating the ACCSC.

“Dr. Keizer,” the reps write, “chose to use his leadership position as a bully pulpit to undermine NACIQI’s role as a watchdog of watchdogs. Rather than focus on quality accrediting bodies and ultimately the interests of students, Dr. Keizer misused his position to protect his own interests.

Representative Takano has played a leading role in protecting veterans and military service members from predatory college abuse. Rep. Manning has previously written to the Department to raise questions about Keizer’s troubling influence on another nonprofit school, St. Andrews University in North Carolina.

The letter from the three representatives came just days after a similar letter, dated February 14, from three senators: Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown . In a Senate speech at the time, Durbin accused Keizer “of being the worst in the for-profit industry.”

And on Jan. 31, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, wrote to the Department asking it to reconsider the nonprofit status of Keizer University and its parent institution, Everglades. Middle School. He wrote, “The owner and the owner’s family benefit substantially from the institution’s income in violation of the principles of what makes an institution a nonprofit organization. Dr. Keiser, his family members and related businesses have received millions of dollars since 2011 in loan repayments, rental properties and contracts to provide goods and services to Everglades College, including market values ​​above fair value.

Arthur Keizer dismissed concerns raised about his schools as politically motivated, and he and his minions pointed out that the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service, the State of Florida and the University’s accreditor Keizer, SACS, knew about it and did not block the nonprofit conversion. But the fact that these entities did not object likely reflects the general lack of oversight that has persisted in higher education and nonprofits for decades, as well as the fact that Keizer was one of the first to take a dubious conversion approach that has become more controversial as its implications have become clearer.

In fact, questions about Keizer University’s conversion to a nonprofit in 2011 have been raised not only recently by the three letters from senior members of Congress, but also going back to the landmark 2012 report of the Senate HELP committee. (“Keiser’s decision to convert to nonprofit status should be examined more closely”), and also including a 2013 article on this site, 2015 articles in the New York Times and Miami Herald, a 2015 report from former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education Robert Shireman, who now serves alongside Keizer as a NACIQI member, and a 2017 letter from Senators Durbin, Warren and Brown. Additionally, as we reported, in recent years the IRS has actually scrutinized the operations of Keizer University — one of many government investigations into Keizer schools, including investigations into predatory practices, over the course of of the last decade.

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