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Trump “University” and the Election

June 7, 2016

In 2000 I founded Yorktown University with investments by accredited investors and two conservative policy organizations that invested their organizations’ funds in the startup of the first, conservative, Internet university.

Since I was using other people’s money–not my own–I had a fiduciary responsibility to protect their investment and to conduct  company operations within the law.

The regulatory environment in 2000 was not as severe as it is today, but it was a significant obstacle to our success.  We wanted to attain regional accreditation, but the only regional agency that had accredited a solely Internet based education company had oversight for states from West Virginia to Colorado.

We were based near Yorktown, Virginia, the site of the battle where American forces under the command of George Washington, and with French naval support, defeated British troops under the command of Cornwallis.

Virginia’s state theme is “Virginia is for Lovers.” In reality the state’s theme is “Virginia Loves Government.” Virginia has more public employees than the state of New York and the Virginia authority that regulates higher education in the state has very tough standards–so tough that we moved to Colorado to escape them.

One of those standards requires state authorization, if an institution uses the word “University” in its name. So, before we had any faculty, before we developed courses, and before we had a Website, we sought and obtained authorization to call ourselves “Yorktown University.”

I am pleased to say that in fifteen years of operating a for-profit education company, not once were we at odds with the regulators. There is no evidence, however, that Donald Trump sought authorization to call his real estate school a “University.” And information about Trump University practices suggest that the purpose of his “University” was to entice students to enroll in seminars starting at $1,300 and growing to as high as $30,000.

Now, anyone who has a student in a regionally accredited college knows that $30,000 is not a high price for one year’s tuition. And $1,300 per course is high, but not excessively high,  for one semester’s course at a regionally accredited university. What seems unusual is that high pressure tactics were used by Trump University to persuade students to enroll in more expensive programs.

In other words, the purpose of Trump university was not to educate students about real estate investing, but to grow income through high pressure sales tactics. With fifteen years experience in the proprietary education business, I have encountered, or know something about, all the publicly traded for profit education companies, and have attended events where the interests of the proprietary education sector are discussed. I believe that, with very few exceptions, the industry puts the education of students first, and profits second.

Had Trump University offered seminars on real estate investing for $1,300 each–and a reported 5,000 persons enrolled in those courses–that would be considered a very good annual income for a for-profit, one program, school.

But, Trump University staff engaged in high pressure tactics aimed at enrolling students in courses that cost as much as $30,000.  It is alleged also that Trump University staff told students that Donald Trump was actively engaged in management of Trump University and that he would be present at some time during the course of seminars.

It seems that The Donald wasn’t actively engaged in managing Trump University and it has yet to be proven that he actually approved the high pressure tactics of his staff.  But, Trump University gives every indication that this company was not another “deal” where Trump authorized use of his name to others for a fee.

Trump held 93% of ownership of Trump University.

In other words, he owns the company and the blame that has been showered on Trump University operations must fall on The Donald’s head.

That Donald Trump is at fault for unscrupulous business tactics at Trump University, and in other “deals,” promises to become “the” campaign issue of the Presidential election of 2016.

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