Bill Clinton Ends Role With Chain of For-Profit Colleges

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By MAGGIE HABERMAN APRIL 24, 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/25/us/politics/bill-clinton-ends-role-with-laureate-chain-of-for-profit-colleges.html

Bill Clinton ended his role with a for-profit college system on Friday, nearly two weeks after his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, began her second presidential campaign and singled out that industry for criticism.

Mr. Clinton’s role as honorary chancellor for the college system, Laureate International Universities, was part of a five-year deal that began on April 24, 2010, an aide with his office said. The end of the agreement was first reported by Bloomberg Politics, and an aide to Mr. Clinton told Bloomberg that the separation had nothing to do with Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

“Laureate students represent the next generation of leadership,” Mr. Clinton said in a statement posted on the Laureate website in which he announced his departure. “I have seen a commitment to quality and leadership throughout the Laureate network, and I have enjoyed being a part of it.”

The university system — part of Laureate Education Inc., which according to Bloomberg is the world’s largest for-profit college chain — has been a seven-figure donor to the Clinton Foundation, giving between $1 million and $5 million, according to the foundation’s website. Laureate has also made five commitments through the Clinton Global Initiative.

The Clintons have recently faced increased scrutiny over donations made to the foundation while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. Mrs. Clinton’s nascent campaign has also faced questions about the overlap between the foundation’s donors and speech fees or contracts with Bill Clinton during that time.

Laureate is said to have a number of backers from both political parties, including the Republican investor Henry Kravis and the Democratic billionaire George Soros.

Reviews of Laureate have been mixed, but it is not considered among the worst offenders in the for-profit college industry. President Obama took action against the industry in 2010 as criticism mounted that for-profit colleges encouraged students to take on burdensome levels of debt to pay for subpar educations.

Mrs. Clinton herself denounced the predatory practices of for-profit colleges during her first campaign swing through Iowa.

Neither Laureate nor Mr. Clinton would say how much he was paid. But he was hired at a time when the industry was facing pressure from the Obama administration and Tom Harkin, then a senator from Iowa.

In his role as an honorary chancellor for Laureate, Mr. Clinton went to 19 campuses around the globe, according to the statement from the university system.

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