By Paul Fain
The University of Phoenix announced Tuesday that it has hired Peter Cohen as the university’s president. Cohen arrives from McGraw-Hill Education, where he most recently has been the company’s executive vice president. He previously was president of Pearson Education’s school division.
Phoenix is a large for-profit chain that in recent years has struggled with slumping student enrollment and revenue. In addition, last year the university disclosed that some of its academic programs do not pass the federal government’s gainful-employment rule.
Also last year, Apollo Education Group, Phoenix’s holding company, announced it would eliminate the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in student enrollment agreements as part of a broader effort to improve student graduation and default rates. Apollo also cut most of its associate degree programs and the use of third-party marketing.
“At every step in my career, I have sought ways to make education more engaging, accessible and impactful,” Cohen said in a written statement. “It’s a thrill and an honor to continue pursuing this goal at University of Phoenix, a flagship institution of higher education.”
Cohen follows Timothy Slottow, a former official at the University of Michigan who led Phoenix for about three years before stepping down last month.
Apollo in February was purchased by a group of private investors for $1.14 billion. The deal was approved by the federal government and an accreditor amid some controversy, in part because of the role of Tony Miller, a former official in the Obama administration’s Education Department. Miller is COO and a partner of the Vistria Group, one of Apollo’s new owners, and is now chairman of the company’s board.