Lone Republican challenging Trump shares for-profit college past

Despite broad differences with president, long-shot candidate Bill Weld demonstrates how ‘belief in markets is bred in the bone’

April 26, 2019
Source: Alamy

As the lone Republican challenger to US president Donald Trump, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld has claimed that the pair “have nothing in common, other than being large, orange men”.

One major exception, however, is that both Mr Trump and Mr Weld have a shared history in running troubled – and failed – for-profit colleges.

In Mr Trump’s case, it was the eponymous Trump University, which was accused of charging thousands of students up to $35,000 (£27,193) apiece with deceptive promises about learning Mr Trump’s real estate investing techniques. Mr Trump settled the claims for $25 million shortly after his election in 2016.

In Mr Weld’s case, it was Decker College in Louisville, Kentucky, which closed in 2005 amid various accusations of fraud. A federal judge, however, later ruled that one of the leading allegations that caused Decker to lose its accreditation and shut down – that it failed to report that it was offering several of its courses in online formats – stemmed from an unsubstantiated claim by a US Education Department official allegedly upset with Mr Weld for his work as a federal prosecutor on a case that shut down a company where the official formerly worked.

“No difference,” higher education expert Anthony Carnevale said in succinctly summarising the change that a long-shot Weld administration would bring to federal policy towards post-secondary education.

“Among Republicans,” said Professor Carnevale, a research professor and director of Georgetown University’s Centre on Education and the Workforce, “the belief in markets is bred in the bone.”

Such similarities stand in contrast to Mr Weld’s attempts to tout his differences with Mr Trump in many other areas, both personal and political.

With a bachelor’s degree in Classics from Harvard University and a diploma in international economics from the University of Oxford, Mr Weld also brings a calm and studious personal demeanour.

He is widely regarded as facing long odds to defeat Mr Trump, although the challenge is expected to hurt Mr Trump by weakening his ability to present a unified Republican policy contrast with his Democratic challengers.

paul.basken@timeshighereducation.com

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Print headline: Trump rival shares for-profit college past

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