But questions remain about whether the school can entice enough teachers to work at the sunsetting school. Hardman wouldn’t say what measures will be taken to retain instructors, only that the school “has an obligation to our students.” David Dies, executive secretary of the Educational Approval Board – the state agency that regulates for-profit colleges – notes that schools in similar situations have offered additional compensation or cash bonuses to keep sufficient faculty on hand. “Things will get a bit more complicated a year from now,” Dies says, “when a student on a certain pathway can’t continue courses or needs a break.” Hardman says phasing out the school could take three years, at which point, Dies says, “There will be no more time.”
The closing, due in large part to below-average enrollment, is only the latest planned for a for-profit college in the area. DeVry University hopes to close its Downtown campus by Dec. 31, joining Anthem, Sanford-Brown, Kaplan and the University of Phoenix, which have all chosen to shutter Milwaukee-area locations since 2012. In that same year, the EAB ordered Everest College to shut down its campus on the northern edge of the Park East area due to poor performance. For-profit colleges have come under intense scrutiny in recent years due to what some say is a legacy of leaving students stranded with heavy debt and few job prospects.
Gov. Scott Walker attempted to disband the EAB as part of the state’s 2015-17 budget, but the Joint Finance Committee voted down the proposal in May. State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, D-Milwaukee, who supported keeping the EAB, says it “helps protect students” from “fly-by-night student debt mills.” For-profit enrollment has declined as Wisconsin recovers from the Great Recession. “People run to get more education when the economy is down,” Dies says. “You’re seeing a natural correction.”