Mar 042015


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A competition that’s drawn dancers, singers, musicians, athletes and talent from Pitt and surrounding counties takes the stage Thursday to raise funds for the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series.

The Down East Talent Search, which is planned to be an annual fundraiser for SRAPAS, will host its first live performance competition in which 22 contestants will compete for a $1,000 grand prize, $250 for second and $150 for third.

The $20 admission will go to support SRAPAS as will proceeds from a $100 Reader’s Choice contest. The act that gets the most votes at will with the prize. Votes are 25 cents each.

The 7 p.m. event is hosted by East Carolina University’s College of Fine Arts and Communication and sponsored by several area businesses. Cooke Communications, which publishes The Daily Reflector, is the lead sponsor.

The 22 finalists were selectected by seven judges from 58 acts that participated in an initial tryout in January. The 22 finalists and will perform for the audience and a cast of local celebrity judges.

The list of acts includes participants ranging in age from 9 to 66. Aside from several contestants from Greenville and Winterville, Kinston, Wilson, Columbia, Bladenboro, Elizabeth City and Macclesfield are represented.

Judges for Thursday’s performance will be LaKesha Alston Forbes, ECU’s associate provost for equity and diversity; media personality Henry Hinton; Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas; Pattie Hopkins, a violinist and ECU alumna; and Emily Tucker, also an alumna who was Miss Goldsboro 2014 and competed in the Miss North Carolina competition. WITN’s Dave Jordan will serve as the emcee.

The performances will include singing and dancing of various types.

“We have everything from traditional music, hammer dulcimer to Bollywood dance,” SRAPAS director Michael Crane said. “We’ve got solo dance, ensemble dance, hip-hop; we’ve got something that’s a little more classical, a lot of singers and singer-songwriters. You’ll hear a (Giacomo) Puccini Aria. There’s ‘Natural Woman,’ which is a Carol King song, but Aretha Franklin made that very popular — just a wide variety of different musics.”

The evening also will include a team from King Tiger Tae Kwon Do of Winterville.

Crane said he was surprised by the quality of the performances from those who auditioned.

“I was surprised at how good they are,” he said. “I was expecting to hear a nice performance, but a lot of them were like, ‘Are you kidding me? Can you come enroll in our voice department right now? Or our theater department?’ They really surprised me in terms of quality.”

“It was amazing, the talent that came to audition,” said Jane Austin Behan, Pitt County Schools’ Arts Education director who served as one of seven judges on the panel for the initial auditions, “especially in that it was the first year for launching this whole concept. I was just blown away by how much talent and creativity these folks had.”

Cassie Mehlhop will be in attendance, cheering for two competing acts. Her daughter, Emma, 15, will be performing a solo dance routine, and her son, David, 13, will be playing violin as part of a performance by a group from the Wright School of Music.

Emma is part of the Greenville Civic Ballet’s Dance Collective.

“They do a lot of pieces as a group, but she doesn’t get to do a solo very often, so I asked if she might want to do that,” Mehlhop said.

Meanwhile, the Wright School’s performance will consist of two pieces by the band Coldplay.

“Growing up, doing Suzuki violin, they play a lot of classical music and this little group that they have gives them a chance to do pop music — Katy Perry, and they play songs from ‘Frozen’ and Coldplay,” Mehlhop said. “It’s fun to see kids who are really good musicians playing Rock ‘n’ Roll because that’s just different. This is sort of the perfect venue to be able to showcase that. And it’s just fun for Emma to be able to do something that she doesn’t normally get to do.”

Proceeds from the event will go to SRAPAS and aid in its outreach activities for the community, such as the military band performance, and bringing performers into area schools.

“They either do inspirational work or work with the students there,” Crane said. “That’s what makes me really happy, because that’s where you get that depth of experience in the arts, and it might be where you say, ‘This is what I want to do for a career, or for now, or this makes me happy.’ That’s kind of why I feel we’re here.

“This is a super easy way to be a part of that big, happy picture.”

Mar 042015


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Susi Price said she was shocked by the community response when the East Carolina University-N.C. State University Collaborative decided to fund a video game design class at the Gateway Technology Center at N.C. Wesleyan College.

“Since this was our first offering, we had hoped to get anywhere between 10 to 15 students enrolled, and we would’ve been happy with that amount,” said Price, a game art and design teacher at Wilson Hunt High School.

However, Price was surprised to learn when she received an email from Sara Hughes, director of the East Carolina University-N.C. State University Collaborative at the Gateway Technology Center, that the program drew 70 applicants for 24 available slots. A second class section was added to accommodate more students. Price said a total of 48 middle school students make up the Saturday morning and afternoon classes.

“We have students who go to school within the Twin Counties area and a few from Roanoke Rapids and from Wilmington,” she said. “We started on Jan. 31, and this was our third out of five classes that we will be doing until the summer. The reason why we wanted to put together this Video Game Design Experience class because it matches what most of these kids do on their free time. Most of these kids are either playing games with their friends on the PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Wii on whatever other console either together or online.”

Price, who also coordinated the high school summer engineering camp sponsored by the ECU-N.C. State University Collaborative, said the huge response has resulted in an upcoming summer Video Game Design Experience camp for rising 7th-, 8th- and 9th-graders from Aug. 3 to 7. Parents interested in sending their children to the camp can download an application at

During the class sessions, students design their games with the help of Price and an assistant. Price said most of the children are designing maze games because they are the simplest form to do. Price said in the final two class sessions, she plans to focus on emphasizing the different careers available in the video game field.

“I’ve seen how excited they’ve gotten when they found out they could make their own games,” Price said. “In this sort of career field, you can make a good wage. I talked to them about how Raleigh has one of the highest concentrations of game development companies. There are quite a few schools in the Triangle that offer some type of degree, and that isn’t so far.”

As the only girl in the class, Sydney Buzard, 12, who goes to Elm City Middle School, said she has found the class to be informative. Buzard has aspirations of becoming an engineer and said her favorite video game is Call of Duty.

“I’ve enjoyed myself, and we’ve learned some basic stuff,” Buzard said. “We also learned some things that are complex – especially when we are making our objects or characters and trying to get them to react to what we want them to do.”

Ishan Patel, 12, who attends Rocky Mount Academy, said his career goal is to be a graphic designer. Patel said the class has been an enjoyable experience.

“We’ve learned how to make our own sprites, which are the actual animated graphics,” he said. “To be able to make my own maze game was something that was really cool.”

Mar 042015


By Jane Stancill
March 4, 2015

A new grant of $9.6 million is aimed at helping more North Carolina community college students finish their degrees.

The Charlotte-based John M. Belk Foundation announced a new round of grants Tuesday.

The largest, $7.75 million, will bring a program called “Single Stop” to the state. The initiative harnesses technology, training and counseling to help students find financial aid to be able to complete a degree or credential. It will be launched at more than a dozen sites in North Carolina, including community colleges, veterans’ centers and historically black universities.

Other grants will go toward efforts to create career pathways for students and to lure more of those with partial academic credit back to college to earn degrees.

Among the smaller grants announced, $525,000 will go to N.C. State University to join with the Aspen Institute to improve curricula for programs aimed at developing community college leaders.

The end goal is providing more students with education and skills for the workforce. The John M. Belk Endowment’s mission is to increase access and completion of college education for underrepresented students.

The state’s community college system has a focus on improving the graduation rates of its students.

“The John M. Belk Endowment recognizes community colleges play a vital role in getting more North Carolinians into family sustaining jobs,” the organization’s executive director, Kristy Teskey, said in a news release.

Mar 042015


March 4, 2015

Duke University isn’t helping anyone, including itself, by refusing to comment on whether the dismissal of basketball player Rasheed Sulaimon was connected to allegations of sexual assault.

Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, reported Monday that Sulaimon’s dismissal was “clouded by allegations of sexual assault” made by two female students who spoke out at separate campus retreats in October of 2013 and February of 2014. Neither of the women filed a complaint through Duke’s Office of Student Conduct nor did they go to campus or Durham police.

Duke announced Jan. 29 that Sulaimon, a junior and former Duke starter, had been kicked off the team, the first Duke player ever dismissed by Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski. “Rasheed has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program,” Krzyzewski said in a release.

But on Monday during a regularly scheduled conference call with sportswriters, Krzyzewski was saying nothing about the circumstances behind Sulaimon’s leaving except several “no comments.”

Duke University spokesman Michael Schoenfeld also weighed in Monday with a vaporous: “Duke is prohibited by law from disclosing publicly any particular student’s confidential education records.” Then he gave the basic protocol for responding to reports of sexual misconduct.

Duke Athletics Director Kevin White added to the information deficit Tuesday saying, “As specified by federal law and university policy, all Duke officials, including Coach Krzyzewski, are prohibited from commenting publicly on any specific individual or situation.”

The federal law presumably is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It was passed to protect the confidentiality of student academic records, but universities routinely use it as a shield against inquiries into athlete behavior.

In this case, the allegations involve sexual assault, not grades. If Sulaimon was dismissed for reasons unrelated to the allegations, Duke owes it to him to say so. If his removal was related, then there needs to be an explanation of why more than a year passed between the time of the first allegation and his dismissal.

There are a lot of unknowns in this case, but Sulaimon’s name is known, and he deserves to have it cleared, or the university should explain why it can’t do so.

Mar 042015


March 4, 2015

A group of 20 university presidents and college athletics administrators is crafting a proposal to better define when the NCAA should investigate cases of academic cheating by student athletes.

Ohio University President Rod McDavis, the chairman of the NCAA’s Committee of Academics, says the group plans to have a proposal ready by the end of June.

NCAA head of enforcement Jon Duncan said in January academic misconduct is on the rise and his department was handling 20 open academic-misconduct investigations.

McDavis said in a recent interview with The Associated Press the committee has agreed that any time a coach or paid member of the school’s athletic staff is involved in an academic misconduct case the NCAA should be involved.

The committee’s greatest challenge is balancing institutional autonomy with the need for NCAA involvement and determining who should punish cheaters, McDavis said.

The academic misconduct case at North Carolina was a prime example of the delicate balancing act. After a joint review with the school, the NCAA stayed out of UNC’s affairs when it was first determined that a large number of athletes took no-show classes. But the scandal grew and the NCAA later reopened its investigation into academic misconduct last summer because it said new information was available. An independent investigation later revealed details of the scandal, including athletics counselors steering players to the classes where they received artificially high grades.

McDavis described schools as the first line of defense against academic misconduct. He said the committee has also agreed universities and colleges are responsible “to have and adhere to written academic misconduct policy.”

The committee can expect some push back from campus leaders who believe academic matters fall strictly under institutional control.

“On the surface it seems like it should change, however, what we all hear from campuses is that the courses offered, curriculum, majors, rigor, etc. are an institutional or campus department matter,” said Kim Durand, associate athletic director for student development at the University of Washington. “Institutional autonomy should reign.”

Durand said one of the committee’s goals is to close what she called the gap between guidelines and enforcement. Currently, an NCAA violation related to academic misconduct only occurs if the act results in a competitive advantage.

“If you have a case where an egregious act has happened, but (if) the student-athlete is being redshirted or blows out his or her knee and doesn’t compete for you that year or doesn’t need those credits to make themselves eligible, then there is not an NCAA violation,” said Durand, who is the president of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics.

The other goal for the committee is to consolidate the bylaws on academic misconduct that are now sprinkled throughout the NCAA manual.

“If I’m looking for guidance from the NCAA manual on what steps I need to take and where this falls under, I may have to look at three, maybe four different places in the manual,” Durand said. “So that’s confusing.” A vote on the measure by members from every Division I conference plus conference commissioners, faculty members and students, could happen as soon as April 2016.

Mar 042015


By Nick Anderson and Susan Svrluga
March 3 at 7:00 PM

This story has been updated.

For more than a century, Sweet Briar College has offered women a liberal arts education in a pastoral setting near Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Equestrian programs, a tight-knit residential community and, lately, an engineering science degree, have been its hallmarks.

On Tuesday, the college’s leadership abruptly announced its closure to stunned and tearful audiences of faculty and students. Officials cited “insurmountable financial challenges,” saying the 700-student college, founded in 1901, would shut down permanently in August. An $84 million endowment, officials said, was not enough to offset ebbing demand for their school in a tumultuous market.

“It’s so sad,” to think of a place that feels like a second home not existing any more, said Katie Craig, president of the student government. All around campus students were wandering, in shock, on the phone with their parents and friends, she said, wondering if all the things they worked so hard to achieve were for nothing.

Emotions were very high for alumnae who joined in on a conference call about the closure Tuesday evening, said Julia Patt, a 2009 graduate who lives in Chestertown, Md. She said people were shocked and kept asking if there wasn’t something they could do other than shut down.

Patt said students and graduates have a powerful bond to Sweet Briar. “To have it taken away, there really are not words for it,” she said. “I hope other institutions that come to a similar place might see some options. It doesn’t have to be like this for everyone.”

The closure of the college in Amherst County, north of Lynchburg, continues a painful era of retrenchment for single-sex higher education and is a sign of the perils facing small liberal arts schools of all types.

Fifty years ago, there were 230 women’s colleges in the United States, according to the Women’s College Coalition. Now, after decades of shutdowns, mergers and coed conversions, there are little more than 40. Some women’s colleges remain among the most durable brands in higher education, including Smith, Wellesley, Barnard, Bryn Mawr and historically black Spelman. But others, like Sweet Briar, have faced an increasing financial squeeze and have scrambled to attract new students.

In late 2013, Jo Ellen Parker, then-president of Sweet Briar, said the college was seeking to cut costs and sharpen its focus. The school had excised its volleyball team and classes in Italian and German. Parker said the school planned to highlight what makes it distinctive, including programs that aimed to help women move into careers in science, technology and engineering.

But enrollment continued to slide. In 2010, the college had 760 students. Last fall, it reported 700. It charges about $47,000 a year in tuition, fees, room and board. But to attract students, the college had been forced to discount tuition by an average of about 60 percent, officials said, leaving it in precarious financial shape.

The college’s board of directors, in an emergency meeting in Washington, voted unanimously Saturday to close as of Aug. 25, said college President James F. Jones Jr.

“This is a sad day for the entire Sweet Briar College community,” Paul G. Rice, the board chairman, said in a statement. “The board closely examined the college’s financial situation and weighed it against our obligations to current and prospective students, parents, faculty and staff, alumnae, donors and friends. We voted to act now to cease academic operations responsibly, allowing us to place students at other academic institutions, to assist faculty and staff with the transition and to conduct a more orderly winding down of academic operations.”

Jones was blunt about the challenges the school faced: “The declining number of students choosing to attend small, rural, private liberal arts colleges and even fewer young women willing to consider a single-sex education.”

Variations on this view, sometimes in cities and suburbs, have aired over the years as many women’s colleges have transitioned to admitting men, including Goucher in Baltimore County and Hood in Frederick. Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg went coed in 2007, under the name Randolph College.

Coed schools have not been immune from pressure. Virginia Intermont College in Bristol announced its closure last year, and other institutions around the country in recent years have closed or merged. Demand for higher education in some regions has slackened as the economy has improved and as the number of graduates from high schools has dropped or leveled off.

Some women’s colleges, however, are thriving. Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, said key to the success of her Catholic women’s college in Northeast has been the expansion of coeducational graduate programs and an intensive recruiting drive in urban neighborhoods.

That has netted many young women from low-income backgrounds, she said, especially from black and Hispanic families. “This idea that young women don’t want to go to women’s colleges,” McGuire said, is “an artifact” of an era when those colleges were perceived to be mainly targeting upper-class white women.

“There are a lot of women’s colleges that are doing fine,” said Marilyn Hammond, interim president of the Women’s College Coalition. “To say it’s a sector issue would not be correct.”

At Sweet Briar, the news roiled campus at midday Tuesday. Jones and Rice said faculty were told first, then students.

“That was, as one would expect, very emotional,” Jones said. He said his wife is a Sweet Briar alumna. Many of the students were in tears, he said. “They love this place as much as she did. It’s very much understandable — grief about losing something that you hold incredibly important down to the core of your being.”

Phyllis Jordan, a communications consultant who lives in the District and graduated from Sweet Briar in 1980, said the news stunned her Tuesday.

“I knew that Sweet Briar was in trouble and having tough times. But I had no idea this was the solution they were going to come up with,” said Jordan, a former Washington Post editor who is active on the school’s alumnae board.

There was an immediate outpouring on social media, of shock and dismay and love for the school. “First thought: I’m going to reunion this year if I have to pitch a tent on the Quad,” one alumna wrote.

“There are few things in my life that have caught me more off-guard or been more devastating,” one alumna tweeted. “I can’t stop crying.”

Some current students sounded lost — worried about transferring credits, where they would be next year, what to do. Sweet Briar officials said they would help students transfer, possibly to Hollins University or Mary Baldwin College — two women’s schools in Virginia — or elsewhere.

Throughout Virginia, people were talking about the loss of part of the state’s history, a school known for its southern charm, its gentility, its early adoption of an engineering degree, its equestrian program. Students and alumnae of other women’s colleges reacted with sympathy, as well.

But Sweet Briar’s Web site crashed mid-afternoon, leaving error codes and blank spaces where there had been happy images of busy campus life.

Mar 042015


MARCH 3, 2015

“I’m Anna. I’m in the history department. I want a union because I want to be able to do this work I love and have a safety net.”

“I’m Bradley. I’m from Slavic languages. I support a union because dependent health care is outrageously expensive.”

On a frigid February afternoon, 60 Columbia University graduate students from anthropology to zoology crowded into a meeting room to brainstorm how to persuade Columbia to recognize and bargain with the labor union they are struggling to form.

They began the meeting by asking the students to introduce themselves and explain why they wanted a union. At times it sounded like group therapy to air complaints — about callous faculty advisers, inadequate maternity leave and other issues — but it was far more strategy session and pep rally.

One of the last students to chime in said: “I’m Nick. I’m also in history. We need a union because power concedes nothing without a fight.”

The group said it had gotten 1,700 of Columbia’s 2,800 graduate teaching and research assistants to sign forms saying they want to unionize. More than 100 marched recently to the office of Columbia’s president to present those forms and demand that the university recognize them as a labor union. But Columbia has refused, saying that treating students as employees could hurt their education.

Columbia points to a 2004 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that concluded that graduate teaching and research assistants were essentially students, not workers, so universities were not legally required to bargain with them even when a majority wanted a union.

Confronting that obstacle, Columbia’s graduate students are pressing the school to do what New York University did in late 2013 — agree to voluntarily recognize and bargain with its graduate students’ union.

In recent months, graduate students at Brown, Cornell, the New School and Yale have also started unionization drives, but they all face the same obstacle, the 2004 ruling. That ruling, involving graduate students at Brown, affected only private universities.

The Columbia students have asked the labor board’s New York office to oversee a unionization election, but it has refused, citing the 2004 ruling. The students hope to persuade the agency’s five-person board in Washington to reverse the 2004 ruling, which was decided by an employer-friendly, Republican-dominated board. Today’s board has a Democratic majority and is friendlier to labor.

“Given the success at N.Y.U. and some positive signals from the N.L.R.B., students at numerous schools are eager right now to pursue unionization,” said Ruth Milkman, a labor expert at the City University of New York. “There’s good reason to think the N.L.R.B. will rule their way.”

Columbia officials say the school is generous to teaching and research assistants, paying full tuition and stipends from $22,000 to $40,000, varying by department. Like many universities, Columbia fears that a union could bring tensions and strikes.

“We fully understand that pursuing a Ph.D. is a highly challenging path, both intellectually and personally,” Columbia said in a statement. “Our graduate students are scholars in training whose teaching and research are an integral part of their doctoral studies. As the N.L.R.B. found in the Brown University case, we believe that treating students as employees could adversely affect their educational experience.”

Seth Prins, a Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology, asserted that it was wrong for Columbia and the labor board to consider the teaching and research assistants merely students. “If we stopped providing our teaching and research services to the university, it would cease to be the world-class institution it is,” he said. “Being a student is not incompatible with being a worker.”

The Columbia students are seeking to join the United Automobile Workers, which represents thousands of white-collar workers, including Columbia’s clerical workers, as well as N.Y.U. and University of Connecticut graduate students.

Alex Beecher, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in chemistry, has reservations about unionizing.

“I’m happy with the current situation,” he said. “We get a fair package from Columbia.”

“As grad students, we certainly have a worker role,” Mr. Beecher added. “But we’re also students, and by changing the nature of our worker role, a union would change the nature of our experience as students.”

At Yale, union organizers have collected more than 1,000 pro-union signatures from graduate students and asked the university to grant recognition. More than 1,000 graduate students and their allies staged a protest on campus in October, with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut there to voice support.

“This has really been energized by the example of N.Y.U.,” said Aaron Greenberg, a graduate student in political science and president of Yale’s Graduate Employees and Students Organization. “We want to sit down and negotiate about our benefits, our pay and our work at the university.”

A university spokesman, Thomas Conroy, said: “Yale believes that graduate students are students, not employees. Further, we do not believe it is in the best interests of the students, the faculty or the educational process to change the teacher-student relationship to a manager-employee relationship.”

Mr. Conroy called Yale’s financial package for graduate students “among the most generous in the country,” valuing it at $65,000 a year. The students are guaranteed five or six years of full tuition plus stipend and heavily subsidized health coverage.

Luis Lei, a graduate student in philosophy at the New School, spoke in envy of Columbia’s and Yale’s financial packages. At the New School, graduate students generally pay most of their tuition and receive modest stipends for teaching or research.

A majority of the New School’s graduate students have signed forms supporting membership in the autoworkers’ union.

“The basic concerns are wages, a lack of job security and not having any say about labor conditions,” Mr. Lei said.

The New School has not responded to the students’ request for union recognition, saying it is evaluating its options.

“We are assessing the impact recognition would have on the education of all of our students,” a New School spokeswoman, Josephine Parr, said. “Our current resources are more modest than those of larger research universities.”

At Columbia, Olga Brudastova, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, voiced a common complaint: She said her stipend checks sometimes arrived three months late. When that happens, graduate students worry that if they push too hard to get their delayed checks, they might infuriate their faculty adviser or the administration.

“Having a union could go a long way to help,” Ms. Brudastova said.

Mar 042015


MARCH 2, 2015

After a recent government crackdown on the multibillion-dollar career-training industry, stricter limits on student aid and devastating publicity about students hobbled by debt and useless credentials, some for-profit schools simply shut down.

But a few others have moved to drop out of the for-profit business altogether, in favor of a more traditional approach to running a higher education institution.

And the nonprofit sector, it turns out, can still be quite profitable.

Consider Keiser University in Florida. In 2011, the Keiser family, the school’s founder and owner, sold it to a tiny nonprofit called Everglades College, which it had created.

As president of Everglades, Arthur Keiser earned a salary of nearly $856,000, more than his counterpart at Harvard, according to the college’s 2012 tax return, the most recent publicly available. He is receiving payments and interest on more than $321 million he lent the tax-exempt nonprofit so that it could buy his university.

And he has an ownership interest in properties that the college pays $14.6 million in rent for, as well as a stake in the charter airplane that the college’s managers fly in and the Holiday Inn where its employees stay, the returns show. A family member also has an ownership interest in the computer company the college uses.

Keiser University, which has about 20,000 students spread over 15 campuses, is one of a handful of for-profit colleges that have switched to the nonprofit arena or are considering that move.

The shift means more restrictions on moneymaking ventures and loss of ownership. But nonprofit schools — defined as providing a public benefit — do not have to pay taxes, are eligible for certain state grants and can receive more money from the federal student loan program.

Consumer advocates and legal experts warn that some institutions might be shifting primarily to avoid stepped-up government scrutiny and regulation. Moreover, said Lloyd Mayer, an associate dean and law professor at Notre Dame Law School: “There is a concern that the now-nonprofit colleges may be providing an impermissible private benefit to their former owners. These sorts of arrangements raise yellow flags.”

Dr. Keiser, who started Keiser University in 1977 with his mother, Evelyn, now 91, scoffed at such criticism. “My goal has been to build a family legacy,” he said. Becoming a nonprofit “was a natural transition for us,” and “for our students, too,” he said, allowing the institution to expand into a residential college.

He said that the family had long planned the move to the nonprofit sector, laying the groundwork in 1998, when it first bought a small Florida college and later converted it to the nonprofit Everglades. Keiser now offers 100 degrees and certificates in subjects that include baking and pastry arts, nursing and political science.

As for any financial conflicts of interest, he said: “We disclosed everything. There’s nothing wrong with it.”

Dr. Keiser, who is the House Republicans’ appointee to the Education Department panel that oversees accreditation, formerly was chairman of the governing board of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which filed a lawsuit in November challenging new federal regulations. These require for-profit colleges and trade schools to show that their students will eventually earn enough money to pay their student loans.

The rules are a result of longstanding complaints that the industry lures mostly poor and minority students with misleading information about the value of the schools’ degrees and costs, and then saddles them with onerous debt.

According to estimates from the Obama administration, about 1,400 programs that enroll 840,000 students would fail the new gainful employment rules. If they do, the government can impose sanctions that could eventually lead to a cutoff of federal student aid and loans, the schools’ lifeblood. For-profit colleges receive roughly $30 billion a year in taxpayer-funded student aid.

Some institutions are already struggling. The giant for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges, which once took in $1.4 billion a year in taxpayer funds, has virtually collapsed after a series of state and federal inquiries and lawsuits.

For-profit schools vigorously opposed the newest rules, arguing that they would ruin institutions that serve students who have few other educational options. Defenders point out that some have better graduation records than community colleges and are much better at responding to a changing job market.

The states have opened another line of attack, with at least 24 attorneys general investigating whether for-profit colleges under their jurisdiction have engaged in false advertising, illegal recruiting practices or predatory loan schemes.

Keiser University was the subject of an investigation by the Florida attorney general before its sale to the family’s nonprofit. In 2012, it reached a settlement and agreed to offer thousands of students free retraining, but did not admit any wrongdoing.

In November, Robert Shireman, a fierce industry critic and former Education Department official, filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service accusing Mr. Keiser and three board members of violating tax regulations and using the nonprofit “for personal gain.”

According to Everglades’s 2012 tax return, one of the university’s nine board members owns a business that provided the college’s paperless filing system. A family member of a second board member owns Cutting Edge Recruiting Solutions, which the college used. A third, who owns a pool maintenance company in Florida, received “a net share of income from the aquatic engineering program.”

An emailed response from Keiser said that all the financial arrangements “are at fair market value terms and conditions,” and that the college adheres to “generally accepted auditing and accounting principles,” as defined by the I.R.S.

Keiser University was valued at $521 million, tax returns show. Dr. Keiser said the valuation was arrived at by two independent auditors.

He lent Everglades $321 million for the sale and donated much of the rest, a charitable gift that potentially shaved tens of millions of dollars off his tax bill. The Keiser family maintained an ownership interest in the land and property.

Other owners have followed a similar template of financing the purchase of their for-profit colleges through a combination of loans and tax-deductible donations to a closely affiliated nonprofit. The new tax-exempt entity subsequently leases the space from the original owners at multimillion-dollar annual rents. The before-and-after management team is often virtually the same.

The Education Department has final approval over the shift to nonprofit status, reviewing a school’s financial obligations and administrative capabilities. None have yet been rejected.

“I don’t think anyone with any rudimentary knowledge with how nonprofits are supposed to operate and the for-profit college industry could fail to conclude that the transaction is structured to benefit insiders and that the former owners are making a lot of money off the nonprofit,” said David Halperin, a Washington lawyer and the author of “Stealing America’s Future: How For-Profit Colleges Scam Taxpayers and Ruin Students’ Lives.”

Such a characterization unfairly smears the whole industry, said Neil Lefkowitz, a Washington lawyer who specializes in transactions involving education companies. “The concept of for-profit education has been quite demonized, and so many institutions are really feeling the pinch,” he said.

In 2012, Carl B. Barney sold several for-profit colleges, including Stevens-Henager, CollegeAmerica and California College, to a small Denver-based nonprofit, the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, which, according to court documents, consists of a single member: Mr. Barney, its chairman.

Mr. Barney lent the nonprofit $431 million for the sale, and donated millions more, the center’s tax returns and court records show. He also collected nearly $5.1 million in rent from the schools in 2013. The value of its “intangible assets” — such as its reputation and copyrighted trade secrets — was listed at $419 million.

A lawsuit joined by the Justice Department last year charged that the sale was, “at least in part, to evade certain regulatory requirements that apply to for-profit schools,” and that “the schools continue to operate more or less as they did prior to the merger.”

In December, the Colorado attorney general sued Mr. Barney and the schools over misleading and illegal practices. “These allegations are entirely false and they defame us,” Mr. Barney said. “We are fighting back to the very end.”

He derided the notion that he was making any money from the schools or the center, an organization devoted to libertarianism and the free-market philosophy of Ayn Rand. “You cannot profit from a nonprofit,” Mr. Barney said.

In 2011, Remington College, another Florida-based for-profit school, was sold to a nonprofit with the owners lending it $136 million for the sale, according to its 2013 tax return.

In January, Herzing University, based in Wisconsin with campuses in eight states, announced that it had completed its conversion to a tax-exempt nonprofit. And Grand Canyon University in Phoenix is trying to convert from a publicly traded company worth more than $2 billion to a nonprofit.

Because of the stigma now dogging for-profit colleges, nonprofit status has become a crucially important marketing tool.

“Some are truly not doing this to evade regulations,” Mr. Lefkowitz said. “They are really having trouble recruiting students.”