The Art Institutes
|The Art Institutes|
The Art Institutes logo
|Location||United States, Canada|
The Art Institutes (Ai) are a system of for-profit art colleges with approximately 50 locations across the United States and Canada. The schools offer master's degrees, bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and certificates in visual, creative, applied, and culinary arts. Educational accreditation of The Art Institutes and their programs varies among campuses and programs.
The Art Institutes' parent company, Education Management Corporation (EDMC), is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In November 2014, EDMC was delisted from the NASDAQ amid financial difficulties, lawsuits, and investigations.
The Art Institutes system was created in 1969 when Education Management Corporation (EDMC) acquired The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which was originally founded in 1921. Starting in 2000, The Art Institutes began offering bachelor's degrees and, in 2001, launched its distance education program, Art Institute Online, which began offering bachelor's and non-degree programs online.
Throughout the 2000s, The Art Institutes expanded through the acquisition of existing art colleges and the establishment of new Art Institutes. In 2001, there were around 20 campuses of The Art Institutes; this grew to approximately 30 locations in 2006 before reaching 50 Art Institutes in 2010.
Beginning in August 2011, EDMC has been involved in a United States Department of Justice investigation and lawsuit alleging both illegal recruitment practices by EDMC schools, including The Art Institutes, and fraudulent receipt of $11 billion in federal and state financial aid money. As of May 2013, the lawsuit was unresolved. A 2011 US DOJ report claimed EDMC "created a 'boiler room' style sales culture and has made recruiting and enrolling new students the sole focus of its compensation system."
In 2011, Frontline released a documentary titled Educating Sergeant Pantzke. In the documentary, Iraq war veteran Chris Pantzke discussed the lack of disability services at the school. According to Pantzke, "Being a soldier, you don’t want to quit, you don’t want to give up or fail." After doing his own research, Pantzke concluded that the degree he was pursuing wasn’t "worth much more than the paper is worth," and felt he was “throwing away taxpayer money” by using GI Bill funds.
Since 2012, The Art Institutes schools have experienced a decrease in the number of new students enrolling, seeing enrollment numbers drop by approximately 20 percent between the second quarter of the 2012 fiscal year and the start of 2013. EDMC has attributed the drop in enrollment to limited access to Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students and the economic recession. In February 2013, EDMC announced plans to continue a three-year-old tuition freeze at The Art Institutes. The company has pledged to maintain the current cost of tuition through 2015, in an effort to focus on students.
In May 2013, a federal judge in Pennsylvania rejected a bid to dismiss a lawsuit against EDMC by a former EDMC employee. The lawsuit alleges that the corporation and its affiliates engaged in a scheme to maximize profits from financial aid programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The complainant in the case, Jason Sobek, who worked as an admissions director for EDMC in Pittsburgh from June 2008 through November 2010, alleges that the firm falsified information given to the Department of Education that indicated they were in compliance with the loan programs’ eligibility requirements. In testimony that provided the basis for the lower court’s decision last October, Sobek alleged that EDMC operated a “carefully crafted and widespread for-profit education scheme [in which] defendants have defrauded the United States and its taxpayers out of millions of dollars in the form of federally backed student loans and grants.”
In June 2013, EDMC announced that its President John Mazzoni would resign effective July 14, 2013, after 27 years at the organization. Charles Restivo, Group Vice President, would become the Interim President of The Art Institutes. 
Schools and programs
As of 2013, there are approximately 50 locations of The Art Institutes in the United States and one location in Canada, as well as the Art Institute Online, with a total of 70,000 students. The Art Institutes schools account for about half of all EDMC schools and more than half of EDMC's total student population.
The Art Institutes offer programs for master's, bachelor's and associate degrees, as well as non-degree certificate programs, in areas of focus including culinary arts, design, fashion and media arts. EDMC offers scholarships for Art Institutes students, including $100 million for the year ending June 30, 2013.
Notable alumni of The Art Institutes include tennis player Venus Williams, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Carol Guzy and Ben Vaughn, the host of the Food Network program Health Inspectors, who all graduated from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Additionally, 2009 Project Runway contestant Logan Neitzel graduated from The Art Institute of Seattle, 2010 Top Chef contestant Tiffany Derry graduated from The Art Institute of Houston, and Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Martha Rial and cartoonist Matt Bors graduated from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
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