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Education Management Corporation
Traded as EDMC
Industry For-profit education
Founded 1962 (1962)
Headquarters Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Number of locations 110 campuses
Area served United States, Canada
Key people Todd Nelson (Chairman)
Edward West (CEO)
Employees 23,000[1]
Divisions Argosy University
The Art Institutes
Brown Mackie College
South University

Education Management Corporation is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based operator of private sector post-secondary educational institutions in the United States and Canada.[2] The company was founded in 1962 and currently operates 110 schools through its four higher education systems, Argosy University, The Art Institutes, Brown Mackie College and South University. As of 2012, more than 130,000 students attended Education Management Corporation-operated schools,[3] making it the second largest private sector educational provider in the United States.[1] The company has been the subject of several lawsuits and investigations regarding its practices relating to recruitment and student financial aid eligibility.


EDMC operates four educational systems: Argosy University, The Art Institutes, Brown Mackie College and South University.[3] EDMC schools offer online and campus-based programs at the doctorate, master's, bachelor's, associate and certificate level.[4][5]

As of January 2013, EDMC operated 110 colleges and universities in 32 U.S. states and Canada.[6][1] As of 2012, enrollment at EDMC schools was around 130,000 students, of which approximately 70,000 are enrolled in programs at The Art Institutes.[3] Alumni of EDMC schools include tennis player Venus Williams, 2009 Project Runway contestant Logan Neitzel and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Carol Guzy.[7]

Colleges and universities

Argosy University offers degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate 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.[8] The institution operates a law school, the Western State College of Law at Argosy University, which was previously a separate institution.[9]

The Art Institutes, of which there are approximately 50 locations in the U.S. and Canada, offer programs in design, fashion, media and culinary arts.[10]

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.[11]

South University offers degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's and doctorate 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.[12]

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.[13][14][15] In October 1996 the EDMC conducted a $45 million initial public offering ($67.7 million in 2014 dollars).[16][17] By 1998, EDMC served 17,400 students at 15 Art Institutes and three additional schools.[13]

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 2014 dollars). The acquisition allowed EDMC to offer programs in law, education and business.[16][18]

In 2003 EDMC acquired the health sciences-focused South University in April[18][19] and 18 schools operated by the Ohio-based American Education Centers in June, which were re-branded Brown Mackie College a year later.[17][20] In September 2003, former Maine governor John McKernan became EDMC chief executive officer, serving until 2007.[21][22] 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.[18]

Goldman Sachs, Providence Equity Partners and Leeds Equity Partners acquired EDMC and its 70 schools for $3.4 billion in March 2006 ($3.98 billion in 2014 dollars). On June 1, 2006, EDMC was taken private once again in the largest for-profit education sector buyout at that time.[23][4][7] At the time of the acquisition EDMC's schools were serving around 72,000 students, 4,000 of whom were enrolled in online programs.[4] 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.[4][24] On September 21, 2009,[25] EDMC became a public company once again, raising $330 million ($363 million in 2014 dollars) on the NASDAQ while Goldman Sachs retained 40% ownership.[14][23][26][27]

Recent history

In 2012, Edward West replaced Todd Nelson as CEO, while Nelson replaced McKernan as chairman.[21] 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.[2] EDMC has attributed this to the economic downturn of the late 2000s and new federal restrictions on the PLUS Loan program.[3]

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,[5] and led to several rounds of layoffs.[23][28] Only one new school opening has been announced in the 2013 fiscal year.[29] In February 2013, EDMC announced a tuition freeze through at least 2015, as part of a strategy to refocus on students.[1]

Corporate affairs

EDMC's headquarters are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[1] Since July 2012, the company's chairman is Todd Nelson[23] and its chief executive is Edward West.[21] Former EDMC chief executive officer John R. McKernan Jr. is a member of its 11 member board of directors.[30] Other board members include representatives from Goldman Sachs, Providence Equity Partners and Leeds Equity Partners.[31]

Political activities

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.[27][32][33] EDMC opposed the rule's original draft, arguing that it limited minority and low-income students access to higher education.[5][34]

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 politicians, including Democratic Congressman Jason Altmire, who opposed the "gainful employment rule", as well as Republican Congressman John Kline, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, and the DCCC. An additional $850,000 was spent on 2010 lobbying efforts.[34]

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".[34] The coalition persuaded the Department 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.[33] 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.[35] 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.[36]

Legal issues

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.[37] 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.[27] 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.[38] 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.[14][38] In May 2012, the charges that the compensation plan was illegal were dismissed with other charges allowed to stand.[39] During this time EDMC settled with a former South University recruiter alleging similar practices. The details were not public.[6][40]

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.[41] 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.[30] In May 2013 U.S. Judge McVerry rejected EDMC's appeal to dismiss the case.[42]

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".[1]


Four states initiated investigations in recent years with Florida in October 2010, New York, California[39][43] and a subpoena of documents regarding Brown Mackie College from the Office of Consumer Protection of the Kentucky Attorney General in December 2010.[44] 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.[7][45] 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.[46]

Dismissal of shareholder lawsuit

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.[47]


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External links

  • Bloomberg Businessweek
  • The New York Times
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