Education Management Corporation
|Traded as||NASDAQ: EDMC|
|Headquarters||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
Number of locations
|United States, Canada|
|Mark A. McEachen (Chairman)|
Number of employees
The Art Institutes
Brown Mackie College
Education Management Corporation ("EDMC") is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based operator of for-profit post-secondary educational institutions in the United States and Canada. The company was founded in 1962 and was delisted from the NASDAQ in November 2014. From June 2013 to June 2014, the company eliminated about 2,600 positions, and campuses have been closed or are in the process of closing.
In 2011, EDMC and its subsidiary, the Art Institutes, received greater public scrutiny with the release of the Frontline documentary: 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." But after doing his own research, Pantzke concluded that the degree he was pursuing wasn’t "worth much more than the paper is worth". And he felt he was "throwing away taxpayer money” by using GI Bill funds.
EDMC has faced significant financial problems, including a 99% drop in the value of its stock and a defaulted bond rating (to junk bond status). Under a pending agreement, shareholder stock value will be diluted an additional 96%. Moody's credit rating service in January 2015 dropped EDMC to its lowest rating, D-PD. EDMC's CEO, Edward West, resigned from the company on August 28, 2015, "to pursue other interests". The company was never profitable under his leadership.
It currently operates 110 schools through its four higher education systems: Argosy University, The Art Institutes, Brown Mackie College and South University. Enrollment for 2014 stood at 120,920. According to EDMC, student enrollment is projected to decline to 109,890 in 2015.
EDMC has been the subject of several lawsuits and investigations alleging that the company made misleading claims in its efforts to recruit students. One of the most recent came from real estate executive, Brian H. Robb, MSc, 29, and was settled on September 17, 2015, for $2.5 million. In the suit, he claimed the company’s underhanded recruiting practices and falsified attempts to comply with federal financial assistance regulations at its 110 campuses nationwide did considerable damage to his investment in the company.
On Nov. 16, 2015, federal and state authorities announced a $95.5-million settlement resolving a whistleblower case in which former EDMC employees said the company was "illegally paying recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled." 
- 1 Programs
- 2 Growth and acquisitions
- 3 Corporate affairs
- 4 Political activities
- 5 Legal issues
- 6 References
- 7 External links
EDMC operates four educational systems: Argosy University, The Art Institutes, Brown Mackie College and South University. EDMC schools offer online and campus-based programs at the doctoral, master's, bachelor's, associate and certificate level.
Colleges and universities
Argosy University offers degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral level in business, health sciences, education, and psychology and behavioral sciences. There are 19 Argosy University campuses in the U.S., and the university also offers online programs. The institution operates a law school, the Western State College of Law at Argosy University, which was previously a separate institution.
Brown Mackie College offers programs in health sciences, business, legal studies, information technology and design technology at the associate and bachelor's level. The school also offers diploma and certificate programs. There are 28 Brown Mackie College locations in the U.S.
South University offers degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral level in areas including business, nursing, pharmacy, and creative art and design. The school has 13 locations in the U.S. and offers online programs.
Growth and acquisitions
Foundation and early history
EDMC was incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1962 and acquired its first educational institution in 1969 with the purchase of the nearly 50-year-old Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In October 1996 the EDMC conducted a $45 million initial public offering ($67.9 million in 2015 dollars). By 1998, EDMC served 17,400 students at 15 Art Institutes and three additional schools.
Expansion in the 2000s
In July 2001, EDMC purchased Chicago-based Argosy Education Group, the operator of Argosy University campuses, for $78 million ($104 million in 2015 dollars). The acquisition allowed EDMC to offer programs in law, education and business.
In 2003 EDMC acquired the health sciences-focused South University in April and 18 schools operated by the Ohio-based American Education Centers in June, which were re-branded Brown Mackie College a year later. In September 2003, former Maine governor John McKernan became EDMC chief executive officer, serving until 2007. He oversaw continued acquisitions of existing art and design schools in the U.S. and Canada, construction of new Art Institute locations and the establishment of on-line education programs.
Goldman Sachs, Providence Equity Partners and Leeds Equity Partners acquired EDMC and its 70 schools for $3.4 billion in March 2006 ($3.99 billion in 2015 dollars). On June 1, 2006, EDMC was taken private once again in the largest for-profit education sector buyout at that time. At the time of the acquisition EDMC's schools were serving around 72,000 students, 4,000 of whom were enrolled in online programs. The additional capital was used grow online enrollment to more than 40,000 students by the end of the decade, made possible in part by a 2006 Congressional revision to the "50% rule", which formerly required accredited schools to enroll more than half their students in campus-based programs in order to maintain federal loan eligibility. On September 21, 2009, EDMC became a public company once again, raising $330 million ($364 million in 2015 dollars) on the NASDAQ while Goldman Sachs retained 40% ownership.
In 2012, Edward West replaced Todd Nelson as CEO, while Nelson replaced McKernan as chairman. After the growth in student numbers in the late 2000s, EDMC’s enrollment declined from around 160,000 students in 2011 to approximately 130,000 students at the end of 2012. EDMC has attributed this to the economic downturn of the late 2000s and new federal restrictions on the PLUS Loan program.
The decrease in enrollment, coupled with pending changes to the U.S. Department of Education's "gainful employment" rule, prompted EDMC to hold off expansion plans in 2012, and led to several rounds of layoffs. Only one new school opening has been announced in the 2013 fiscal year. In February 2013, EDMC announced a tuition freeze through at least 2015, as part of a strategy to refocus on students. As of 2014 enrollment was 120,920 students, a decrease of 9 percent.
On May 6, 2015 EDMC announced it would begin closing 15 of its Art Institute locations, citing declining enrollment and restructuring.
EDMC's headquarters is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company's chairman, Mark A. McEachen, replaced Todd Nelson who was its chairman since July 2012. Until recently, its chief executive was Edward West, who resigned August 28, 2015; the company currently lists no CEO. The current board of directors has five members, all of whom have been with the company less than one year. Their Chairman, Mark McEachen, was nominated by preferred stockholders after the recent company-debt restructuring.
Starting in the late 2000s, EDMC has engaged in lobbying and political advocacy. One such area was the Department of Education's June 2011 "gainful employment rule" which limits access to federal student loan money for students attending private-sector institutions with high post-graduation unemployment and default rates. EDMC opposed the rule's original draft, arguing that it limited minority and low-income students access to higher education.
EDMC established a PAC in 2009 to address politically important industry issues. During the 2010 elections its PAC donated more than $50,000 to organizations of both parties and to politicians including Democratic Congressman Jason Altmire, who opposed the "gainful employment rule", as well as to Republican Congressman John Kline, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and the DCCC. An additional $850,000 was spent on 2010 lobbying efforts.
With other private-sector colleges and universities, EDMC helped form the Coalition for Educational Success in 2010. Represented by Lanny Davis, the CES lobbied for changes to the "gainful employment rule". The coalition persuaded the Department of Education to amend the rule, making vocational programs and programs with the highest debt and lowest loan repayment rates ineligible for federal loans. Private-sector providers were also given time to comply with the changes. EDMC Senior VP of Regulatory Affairs and Strategic Development, Anthony J. Guida Jr., served, by appointment, on the U.S. Department of Education’s Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance from 2009 until September 2012. He previously served on the Board of the Association of Private Colleges and Universities, an advocacy organization, and currently serves on the organization's Federal Legislative Affairs Committee.
Lawsuits regarding financial aid and recruitment practices
In 2007, two former EDMC recruiters filed a whistleblower complaint regarding recruitment and compensation practices at EDMC institutions. As a result of these complaints, the U.S. Department of Justice initiated a federal lawsuit in 2011 on behalf of eleven states and the District of Columbia. The civil lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to file lawsuits when they believe the federal government has been defrauded. The lawsuit seeks to recoup $11 billion, the amount of federal money EDMC institutions received in the form of federal student aid between 2003 and 2011. The Department of Justice argued that EDMC violated federal rules banning incentive-based compensation and therefore acquired the federal funds illegally. In response to the charges, EDMC stated that the compensation plan in question was in compliance with then-current federal rules and had been reviewed and approved by two education law firms. In May 2012, the charges that the compensation plan was illegal were dismissed with other charges allowed to stand. During this time EDMC settled with a former South University recruiter alleging similar practices. The details were not public.
A separate whistleblower lawsuit, filed by a former South University recruiter, was initiated in January 2010 and officially filed in March 2012. This lawsuit alleged that the company deliberately misclassified data to inflate the job-placement rates of its graduates and make the school more attractive to prospective students. Unlike the federal whistleblower lawsuit initiated in 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice has not joined the lawsuit. In October 2012, a U.S. magistrate judge dismissed allegations that the company failed to notify the U.S. government when students left their program and that the company misled prospective students about program costs. The remaining allegations were recommended for further review. In May 2013 U.S. Judge McVerry rejected EDMC's appeal to dismiss the case, and on May 11, 2014, he ordered full-blown pretrial discovery regarding the claims and defenses.
As of March 2013, both the federal whistleblower case begun in 2007 and the case initiated in 2010 are pending. EDMC has responded to the claims saying that both cases "are wholly without merit".
In December 2013, EDMC settled a civil claims suit filed by the Colorado Attorney General's Office for $3.3 million. The suit was brought following investigation by the attorney general's office, and alleged that the company's Argosy University in Denver violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act by engaging in deceptive marketing, in particular misleading students about prospects for employment following graduation. Students had lodged complaints that the school had led them to believe it was pursuing accreditation from the American Psychological Association for its education in counseling psychology program, although it was not. Without the accreditation, students were not accepted to local internships that met the state's licensing standards. As part of the settlement, EDMC agreed to reimburse tuition fees for 66 students, end advertisement of its education in counseling psychology program in Denver as a psychology licensure-track program, and not enrol any further students to the program.
In November 2015, the US Justice Department announced that EDMC will pay nearly $95.5 million to settle claims the company used illegal incentives causing recruiters to use high-pressure tactics to convince students to enroll in the school. As part of the deal, the company will also forgive $102.9 million in loans students borrowed from the company to attend the school. The settlement resolves claims alleged in four whistleblower lawsuits, one of which the government intervened in. In addition, the deal covers allegations made as part of a consumer fraud investigation by the attorneys general of 39 states and the District of Columbia over claims the company misled students about job placement rates and other postgraduation outcomes while recruiting them. The loan forgiveness will affect 80,000 students and provide an average of $1,370 to each student.
Four states initiated investigations in recent years with Florida in October 2010, New York, California and a subpoena of documents regarding Brown Mackie College from the Office of Consumer Protection of the Kentucky Attorney General in December 2010. In August 2010, EDMC and other private sector schools were investigated by the U.S. GAO, which reported that Argosy University (Chicago) recruiters misled undercover students about tuition and program quality. The GAO later revised parts of its original report from the investigation, which was the focus of testimony at a U.S. Senate HELP committee September 2010 hearing. A 2011 US DOJ report claimed that EDMC "created a 'boiler room' style sales culture and has made recruiting and enrolling new students the sole focus of its compensation system."
In January 2014, EDMC was among several for-profit schools approached by approximately a dozen attorneys general for information in an investigation of their practices.
EDMC's stock price has dropped more than 75% in the 3 months up to February 2014 as the company faced lower enrollments and investigations at state and federal levels, including investigations by states Attorneys General and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Information that EDMC provided to the Senate Harkin Commission indicates that of the 78,661 students who enrolled at EDMC-owned colleges in 2008-9, 62.1 percent, or 48,840 students, dropped out as of mid-2010. As of 2013, about 120,000 students attended Education Management Corporation-operated schools, a drop from its peak of 160,000.
In 2010, several EDMC shareholders initiated a lawsuit alleging that EDMC had misled investors prior to the company's 2009 IPO, causing investors to lose money when the company's stock fell in 2010. The lawsuit was later joined by EDMC shareholders OPPRS and SEPTA. The case was dismissed by a federal judge in September 2011, as the shareholders were unable to show that the company had lied to investors.
In February 2014, Standard & Poor’s cut EDMC's credit rating to CCC+ because of declining enrollment. Moody's credit rating service in January 2015 dropped EDMC to its lowest rating, D-PD, which it defines as "Corporate families rated D are in default on all of their long-term debt obligations."  In 2014, EDMC's major creditor, KKR took control over EDMC's assets.
- Andrew Conte (February 28, 2013). "Education Management CEO praises back-to-basics strategy". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- Teresa F. Lindeman (January 31, 2013). "EDMC profit drops in second quarter". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
- "Pittsburgh's Education Management Corp. to delist stock from Nasdaq". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. October 24, 2014.
- http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2014/10/28/edmc-cuts-75-jobs-most-of-them-in-pittsburgh.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bizj_pittsburgh+%28Pittsburgh+Business+Times%29. Missing or empty
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- Matt Wickenheiser (October 5, 2011). "Company chaired by former Gov. McKernan wants federal lawsuit thrown out". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
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- Charlie Dietch (August 23, 2012). "EDMC layoffs hit Art Institutes nationwide". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
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- John Hechinger (May 3, 2011). "Education Management Suit Brought on Behalf of 11 States". Bloomberg. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
- "Under False Claims Act, whistleblowers get their share of billions - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 22, 2014.
- Tamar Lewin (August 8, 2011). "For-Profit College Group Sued as U.S. Lays Out Wide Fraud". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
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- Brian Bowling (June 24, 2011). "Ex-employee settles lawsuit against for-profit university". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
- Chris Kirkham (March 15, 2012). "Education Management Corp. Engages In 'Predatory Lending,' Whistleblower Claims". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
- Robert Long (October 25, 2012). "U.S. judge: Parts of McKernan-linked lawsuit can stand". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- Cousins, Christopher (May 31, 2013). "Judge allows lawsuit against for-profit college firm linked to ex-Gov. McKernan to continue". Bangor Daily News.
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- Scott Travis (October 21, 2010). "Florida attorney general investigating 5 for-profit universities". Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
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- Becky Yerak (January 10, 2011). "For-profit colleges fight for credibility; Industry leaders claim federal report tarnishes schools' reputations". Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Associated Press. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
- Charles Huckabee (December 7, 2010). "GAO Revises Report on Recruiting Practices at For-Profit Colleges". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- "EDMC Professors and Students Speak: How Lobbyists and Goldman Sachs Ruined For-Profit Education". Huffington Post. September 24, 2012.
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- "EDMC Professors and Students Speak: How Lobbyists and Goldman Sachs Ruined For-Profit Education". Huffington Post. September 24, 2012.
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- "S&P Lowers Education Management's Rating on Enrollment Decline". Bloomberg.
- "Rating Symbols and Definitions" (PDF). www.moodys.com. Moody's Investors Service. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
- Official website
- EDMC at Bloomberg Businessweek
- EDMC at NASDAQ
- Collected news and analysis at The New York Times