DOD says ‘crappy’ process led to University of Phoenix probation
WASHINGTON — The Defense Department said Tuesday that communication failures played a part in its decision to put the University of Phoenix on probation in 2015 for violations related to base access and challenge coins.
Peter Levine, acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness, admitted in Senate testimony that the department should have worked more closely with the for-profit university last year before the decision. The testimony came amid withering criticism from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who called the hearing and has been a top defender of the university that is headquartered in his state.
The probation, which was lifted in January, highlighted the concerns among the DOD and Democrats that institutions might be preying on servicemembers for their post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits and using improper marketing techniques. But McCain and other Republicans said the University of Phoenix and for-profit universities appear to have been unfairly targeted by the Defense Department.
The probation was a “gross and grave injustice” and was improperly issued based partly on violations reported by the media and with almost no communication with the university, McCain said. He also said the move caused a drop in the company’s stock and damaged its reputation.
“This kind of abuse of power is something I hope in the new administration will be totally unacceptable,” he said.
About 15 other institutions had committed similar violations, according to McCain. The Defense Department said it has placed four universities on probation out of about 2,700 that participate in the Tuition Assistance Program – all of them for-profit schools.
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