Thread regarding DeVry Inc. layoffs

DeVry is a for-profit corporation designed to enrich its owners and managers

Here are the bottom lines for DeVry:

  1. DeVry is not a university or college, it is a for-profit corporation designed to enrich its owners and managers by delivering a service.

  2. DeVry does not have students, it has customers.

  3. DeVry’s service is substandard and overpriced, which has caught the attention of current and potential customers as well as hiring managers in industry.

  4. Learning is not necessary for service delivery and continued operations, all that is necessary is for (a) customers to type some characters on documents and submit them, (b) customers to participate at a bare minimum level at other activities, and (c) employees to be pressured to change grades as necessary to retain unskilled customers.

  5. DeVry is the definition of a socialist organization, almost entirely dependent on the federal government for its existence. It is capitalist only to the extent that it extracts private profit from a public resource, e.g. student loans and grants, and imposes external costs on society, e.g. the production of functionally illiterate people incapable of critical thinking.

  6. The game at DeVry is to keep employees and customers confused and unaware of these realities through doublespeak, lies, and obfuscation. The lies have resulted in large fines but awareness of the real nature of DeVry’s services is growing, thus layoffs and a shrinking customer base.

  7. Customer retention equals cash flow, which drives the need to change grades to keep funds flowing. Grades are related to cash flow, not customer performance.

  8. Employees at DeVry are considered only a variable cost and are not viewed as human beings. The company manages through P&L statements and uses bullying and fear to intimidate employees.

  9. DeVry is a morally bankrupt company with inept managers. Incompetence extends to all management levels.

  10. These factors are causing the company to collapse from within, regardless of the efforts of employees who want to treat customers decently.

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I am a DV alumnus and worked at DVU for almost 10 years. I have since moved on and think fondly on the days when DV made a difference. Unfortunately senior leadership's (you know who you are) focus changed, sometime after Hamburger came on board. The endless Projects (remember Unite and Ignite) rotted the foundations of DVU while fattening leaders pocket books and stoking their egos.

The real shame is that a DV education once meant something. It meant you learned by doing. It meant you had real world, practical skills that enabled you to compete. Now it is just a degree. A piece of paper some do not even want to hang on the wall. I have since sanitized my CV. DV is now just an afterthought when it comes to my educational background or body of work. Sadly, I whole-heartily believe the skills I learned in my undergraduate program at DeVry help set me up.

They cannot even give the institution away without a whole host of conditions. DeVry's highest value to learners is when they offered six undergraduate degrees and tuition was comparable to living wages one might make when completing a degree. DV changed its DNA to complete with UOP and others. DeVry's other mistakes where trying to be everything to everyone by expanding their program offerings. They became “me too”. In addition, the endless tuition increases undermined any learner ROI. Moving away from the high school market was simply dumb.

The greatest learning from watching this unfold over the last 20 years is that pigs are fed and hogs are slaughtered. Sadly, DV morphed into another predatory player in the for-profit space like ITT, Corinthian, AIU, and UOP. Not surprising since it was leaders from those institutions that created that culture. TEACH values have a completely new meaning today.

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This might be why the nursing program has chosen to increase its separation from DeVry.

..............That program is probably not much better & is up next to go kaput.

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...

What you could add to your excellent analysis is the disservice we're doing to our students. Yes, it might make business sense for DeVry to return to its tech roots, but the graduates it produces may find themselves working in companies led by people with degrees in philosophy, political science, or in an extreme case, medieval history. Having technical skill is one thing; but without a background in history, literature, or psychology; or a developed sense of intuition or empathy, their work careers will be stunted, because their growth has been stunted. Yes, their education will lay a road out in front of them, but it will be unable to prepare them for the bends in the road, or even help them explain why the road might be bending in the first place. They will be less than what they could, because the university gave them less than what they needed. This might be why the nursing program has chosen to increase its separation from DeVry. It knows an unhappy ending when it sees it, and doesn't want that for its students.

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Yes, excellent post! Thank you so much for the realism, and some hope. Everything the poster said is spot on, and s/he is my new role model as I try to get out of this damned place.

To all the haters: we understand now that the place is subpar, even though that wasn’t always true, and are all trying to get out, more or less. Do you want to get rid of DeVry? Do you want to accelerate the collapse/shutdown that is already happening? Then just HIRE US AWAY because we are trying to get out!!!!

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I couldn't agree more.

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I worked for DeVry for nearly 2 decades. I left of my own free will, and was fortunate to be able to do so. I feel for all who are tied to their unhappy employment without resources to quit--I was once one of you, and I know your pain. At the end, in the year of my strongest performance, I was able to quit with no golden parachute, just a clean and clear decision on my part that my employment with DeVry needed to end.

There were many years when I truly believed I was personally (and DeVry was institutionally) helping disenfranchised students. Trying to straddle the technical institute world, while laying claim to University status was a problem. DeVry was costly, and the career successes they claimed on behalf of their students were not demonstrable. Institutionally, it seemed DeVry admitted anything that breathed; there were astronomical attrition rates and consequent student-loan debt that captured the notice of the country (The Harkin report). DeVry failed to make appropriate adjustments to that report. They sneered at it; they believed they were immune from its implications. They continued to report insufficiently-documented employment successes; they continued to charge high tuition; and it wasn't until several cycles of declining enrollments that they began "right-sizing" and considering tuition adjustments. All, too late. The word was out, long out. And DeVry had recanted nothing.

8-week sessions trying to teach history, matters of abstract and critical thinking, literature, philosophy, political science, sociology, and art was woefully insufficient. Yet, some few students genuinely prospered from such inquiries. Most thought these courses utterly irrelevant to the careers they sought. And, writing and humanities courses were always harder than courses merely requiring a report of information or demonstrating a memorized process. Humanities courses require higher-level critical thinking, research, and writing skills--skills in which most of DeVry's students are woefully deficient and are not given time to acquire--for such skills take deep time, not just a couple of quick sessions.

Evaluations, for which students had little to no context for judging, were like a wind sock up, down, everywhere. I was a genius, a bore; the class was marvelous, a waste of time....Students expected to be given every opportunity--translate, do-overs, late work after late work, excuse after excuse, negotiation after negotiation--to eke through--few could pass simply on their own merits. No administrative concession was made to teaching 30-40 online students versus 5 on-site students, where a great deal of hand-holding routinely occurs. Neither class size, nor the pedagogical differences in the online/on-site paradigms mattered, nor did the fact that online students submit evaluations so sparsely, nor did the fact that the evaluation instruments are so flawed. Nothing mattered but the capture of metrics, and metrics ruled. Any time my evaluations dipped below a 3.6, I felt my employment threatened. We were given mixed messages, "Don't worry about evaluations; we don't just look at the numbers." Yet, if you wanted to serve on certain committees, you could only do so if your evaluation score was 3.6 or above. A high-ranking official once told me (in the presence of others) that another high-ranking official had so many applications for promotion, s/he would "only look at those with a 3.6 or above" on their evaluations. So much for not looking at the metrics...

There was no humanity left in DeVry's treatment of students and faculty, most of the latter (certainly those in my acquaintance) worked hard, long, and unflaggingly on behalf of students (and to keep their jobs in an environment in which anyone could be fired at any time regardless of any human concern or even reasoning). And students themselves were exhausted: often working full-time jobs with families—how on earth can they get an education in a couple of hours in their pajamas on a Sunday morning?

At the end, after many rounds of layoffs, changes in managers, more work and time spent than ever (up to 70 hours per week), accessible and active in courses 7 days per week, learning and demonstrating use of every new whimsical technology thrown at me...and none of my efforts ever actually appreciated, no "good job"--not once in my last year.

Between a wholly unappreciative management seeking to weed out its next artificially-determined weakest performers, new technology yet again, and students, often predatory subscribers to a system designed not to educate, but (at least in their minds) to exchange a credential for fee, I'd had enough. In my last year, I published, I went to conferences, I volunteered for everything, served on minor and major initiatives, actually used all of the tech tossed in my path, and taught with integrity, fairness, and some hint of rigor. In my previous cycle, I had exceeded expectations across the board; in the cycle I decided to quit, my most strenuous, I did not wish to endure another IPP, where I suspect no matter what I had done nor how well I had performed would actually matter in that process. If I was in favor, I would be given a "meets," nothing more. If I was out of favor, I have no doubt something trumped up would put me in the "needs-development" or "thank-you-for-your-service" status.

I quit and happily without having to endure the final indignity of an artificial scrutiny by a manager and a system I regarded as palpably limited in scope.

I now work at a traditional school. I am not supervised--I am trusted. My credentials, interview, and experience speak for themselves. My supervisor appreciates me and is glad I’m on board. My students like me and try to accomplish the goals of the course to the best of their abilities. My DeVry past did not present a liability. I was told by my supervisor that she would certainly have hired me for a tenure-track position that had recently been filled, had I sought it--so, neither my age (no spring chicken, me) nor my DeVry past stood in my way.

For those still working: you have my highest regard and my deepest sympathy. I wish you the very best.

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To

Thank you. You just wrote everything I wanted to say and more.....ditto, ditto, ditto.

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  1. DeVry is not a university or college, it is a for-profit corporation designed to enrich its owners and managers by delivering a service.

DeVry is an accredited university, regionally accredited by the HLC and licensed to operate in every state that it currently does. It is not designed to enrich anyone, currently; is it designed to fall apart and shut itself down due to declining enrollment and stupid management and marketing decisions, or to be mercifully bought and potentially stripped down by a third party. Whether or not you agree or disagree, and no matter how vehemently or in the guise of a series of theses such as these, you are making a false factual claim to say that it is not something that it currently is entitled to call itself due to licensing and accreditation. It should have remained DeVry Institute, but that is a different discussion. And by the way, education of any type is a service, no matter who provides it or how it is paid for.

  1. DeVry does not have students, it has customers.

DeVry has students who act like customers.

  1. DeVry’s service is substandard and overpriced, which has caught the attention of current and potential customers as well as hiring managers in industry.

Because HR and employers continually berate and systematically exclude DeVry students, even successful student outcomes are devalued and the ROI for tuition is now never going to break even, thus rendering it overvalued. How much of that is DeVry's fault and how much of it is from nasty judgmental, prejudiced folks like you? DeVry has dropped its prices for some of its programs and other schools keep raising theirs. A $200,000 bachelor's in art history from a traditional school is also overpriced and will likely never achieve substantial ROI.

  1. Learning is not necessary for service delivery and continued operations, all that is necessary is for (a) customers to type some characters on documents and submit them, (b) customers to participate at a bare minimum level at other activities, and (c) employees to be pressured to change grades as necessary to retain unskilled customers.

Completely disagree. I doubt you could pass my class unless you already took the technical prereqs. The person agreeing with this in the prior thread was complaining about business papers. Optimize that synergy and leverage engagement and buy-in to increase that ROI. Show me a business paper that isn't filled with unnecessary jargon in between the accounting numbers. There is no pressure to give students the grades they want; however, throughput is encouraged under the aegis of "retention".

  1. DeVry is the definition of a socialist organization, almost entirely dependent on the federal government for its existence. It is capitalist only to the extent that it extracts private profit from a public resource, e.g. student loans and grants, and imposes external costs on society, e.g. the production of functionally illiterate people incapable of critical thinking.

DeVry is the definition of a machine bureaucracy. Decisions are made at the top by those who don't know what they're talking about, whose orders must be carried out by those who resent them. Your argument about "the production of functionally illiterate people incapable of critical thinking" is spurious at best. To actively produce such people, one would need to take folks currently capable of critical thinking, and render them incapable of it. Sorry, did you not yourself take that critical thinking class? Maybe you took it at a community college, or a state college. Aren't those largely dependent on government aid to run as well? Hmm....

  1. The game at DeVry is to keep employees and customers confused and unaware of these realities through doublespeak, lies, and obfuscation. The lies have resulted in large fines but awareness of the real nature of DeVry’s services is growing, thus layoffs and a shrinking customer base.

Obfuscation is certainly an issue. We all see the separation of DeVry components from AdTacos and know that it is going to be sold or shut down. Students have been told that they were getting on-campus classes but are increasingly shunted online to raise revenue in larger class sizes. I hope that admissions has updated expectations to present students with. The place is increasingly an online school with an occasional onsite class. That should be told to them up front.

  1. Customer retention equals cash flow, which drives the need to change grades to keep funds flowing. Grades are related to cash flow, not customer performance.

Any grade change I've ever submitted is done for an academically sound reason. So I allow students to turn in a late paper Week 8 because they were sick, and it raises their course grade. If you think that all teachers should be brutal *ssholes who never provide any leeway, then I disagree with you on general principle. Those are the teachers who make any student hate learning--and we live in a culture where lifelong learning is now a requirement. I do think that running into a few nasty teachers is a good life experience, but overall, school is meant to be a helpful learning experience, not a forced-labor camp or a gulag.

  1. Employees at DeVry are considered only a variable cost and are not viewed as human beings. The company manages through P&L statements and uses bullying and fear to intimidate employees.

Fear of layoffs, yes, and variable cost, yes. To say that they manage through P&L is to give too much credit. They "manage" through constant new initiatives and restructuring that are always designed to fail and be replaced by more of the same.

  1. DeVry is a morally bankrupt company with inept managers. Incompetence extends to all management levels.

As a company, there is little to recommend it. Lower-level managers do the best that they can within the parameters that they are given, generally which are inadequate to allow for success. We are all trying to do the right thing as best as we can. I do not feel like I am morally bankrupt for teaching technical classes and passing students who learn the material. I am very much trying to get a new job elsewhere on a more or less constant basis now.

  1. You are just as culpable as everyone else for the outright student/employee/taxpayer fund abuse that goes on if you continue to work there.

I disagree, because I teach my classes well. If that's what you think, though, give DeVry employees a chance. Hire us away. We all hate the place and are trying to get out. Seriously, 90% of everyone I know is aggressively, actively looking for a new job. Guess what? We're all stuck at DeVry until someone hires us. No one wants to hire us because we work at DeVry. Let me ask you a serious question. Would you hire someone because they quit a for-profit, or honestly just not hire them anyway, even if they were currently unemployed--because they worked for a for-profit? Your "just quit" solution has an all going on unemployment and being an actual drain on society. What are your suggestions? I've already contemplated suicide. Maybe I should be go into physical labor jobs. Thems goods werkers with da Ph.Deez!!!!

  1. These factors are causing the company to collapse from within, regardless of the efforts of employees who want to treat customers decently.

Declining enrollments, irresponsible marketing, reputation damage due to settlements, Internet trolls, judgmental hiring managers, student complaints, constant layoffs and restructuring, and active employee hate for the company are all factors that are causing the collapse.

  1. Let's hope so. I'd also like to see criminal charges.

Really? What charges? Against whom? The marketing folks and ex-CEO and ex-President? You might have a point. Everyone else is trying to survive until they can get out.

Is this being told to the students up front? It needs to be part of the training so everyone at Devry is on the same page.

Sure! Moron. And they hand you the communist manifesto when you walk into a Goodwill store, too! They give you Das Captial when you get a job at Target or shop there! What a stupid comment.

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8. Spot on!

9. This is because everyone at Corporate sees this as a business, not a university. There is a huge diff between the two, and I don't want to hear from anyone who works here that says "Well if you will pay my bills..." ad nauseum. You are just as culpable as everyone else for the outright student/employee/taxpayer fund abuse that goes on if you continue to work there.

10. Let's hope so. I'd also like to see criminal charges.

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Is this being told to the students up front? It needs to be part of the training so everyone at Devry is on the same page.

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