The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

June 6, 2014

Ashford leaves positive print on our city

By Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor

---- — When Ashford University settled for $7.25 million with the Iowa Attorney General’s office in May, it didn’t help the constant image battle that Ashford wages nationally and in the community.

The online education giant has fought bad public relations before, but this settlement seemed like a blow that could continue, as other states weigh whether to pursue legal action against Ashford for allegedly misleading online students.

Ashford denies misleading students. Were there some questionable tactics employed by Ashford during its heyday during the past few years? Maybe. But that is in the past.

Once accreditation issues popped up in 2012, the university took measures to become a credible name in education. I believe the issues that may have arisen in this investigation were before the university started in the direction it is currently heading.

Don’t forget, the settlement will go toward only online students. It doesn’t pertain to the campus in Clinton, which continues to show a commitment to the city.

Ashford is a big economic driver for the city. I know the university’s mission is to educate students, but its economic viability shouldn’t be understated.

The city needs Ashford to continue its educational ascent. Quality education is something I believe Ashford is making progress on, and will continue in the future, especially on campus in Clinton.

I know many people were skeptical of Ashford when the for-profit education business moved to Clinton. Since that time, there has been ups and downs, but the students have made a major impact on Clinton, and will continue to do so in the future.

Many organizations are in need of volunteers. Both higher education institutions, Clinton Community College and Ashford, are usually first in line to assist non-profits and make sure those services are delivered to Clinton residents.

That’s an essential part of what makes Ashford and CCC catalysts in the development of our community. And for Ashford, unfortunately, that message of doing good things for the community isn’t always delivered.

It’s easy for us to dwell on the negative; volunteering and generating economic activity are only a couple of the good things the university provides for Clinton.

This settlement is another step in the progress of Ashford. The university will get through it and Clinton’s campus will continue its pursuit to provide quality education.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.