State higher-ed office hiring consumer protection advocate

Pogemiller

The state Office of Higher Education is hiring its first consumer protection advocate to monitor college recruitment and advertising practices.

The new hire will work with George Roedler, who heads up the registration and licensing section and mediates complaints that students have with schools.

Commissioner Larry Pogemiller says the advocate will identify misleading practices and investigate student complaints.

The position is being added as for-profit colleges in particular face increased national and state scrutiny.

Pogemiller says the person will monitor all higher ed institutions – public, private and for-profit.

The hire appears to signal a change of opinion at the office.

When I interviewed Pogemiller last year, he told me this about the state’s lack of oversight:

“When I first came over in this job six months ago, I was kind of surprised … It’s really just kind of a registration system. I actually thought it was more regulated than it was.”

The office, he explained, didn’t have the resources to launch full investigations.

At the time, I wrote:

Pogemiller is hesitant to seek additional funding. He said the schools may not be sufficiently plagued with problems to warrant such investigations.

Instead, Pogemiller said, it might be wiser to spend state money on a higher priority — such as offering more financial aid to students.

“You have to balance at what level that abuse deserve[s] an allocation of resources,” he said.

But the commissioner may have changed his mind following some lawsuits as well as inquiries and action by the state attorney general. On Friday Pogemiller said:

“Historically, the office has been: ‘We answer complaints when they come to us.’ And I think that it’s probably wise to just become a little more proactive. … Our intent here is to become more proactive and aggressive in protecting the students and ensuring that they have the best result for the investment they’re making.”

He said he has received almost 100 applications, and hopes to choose one this month.

Pogemiller said he would consider hiring someone who had previously worked for a for-profit college, as Roedler had.

Here’s the posting for the position:

STATE PROG ADMIN PRIN

$ 23.30-$ 34.34 hourly, $ 48,650-$ 71,702 annually

Date Posted: 11/27/2013
Closing Date: 12/06/2013
Working Title: Student Consumer Advocate
Hiring Agency: MN Office of Higher Education
Division/Bureau: License & Consumer Protection
Location: St. Paul
Who May Apply: Open to all qualified job seekers
Posting Number: 13MOHE000012
Employment Conditions: Permanent, Full-time
Work Shift: Day Shift
Days of Work: Monday-Friday , 08:00 AM-04:30 PM
Travel Required: yes
Job Grouping: General Administration
Classified Status: Classified
Job Description: Under limited supervision, this position is responsible for:1. Monitoring postsecondary institutions recruitment and advertising practices.2. Identify practices by postsecondary educational institutions in Minnesota that are misleading or lack transparency.3. Provide consumer protection and investigate complaints under the Private Career School Act for non-degree granting schools and the Minnesota Private and Out-of-State Public Postsecondary Education Act for degree granting schools.4. Investigate complaints and respond to students and consumers who file a formal complaint with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.5. Ensure that the complaint process is accessible, usable, transparent and fair to all parties.
Minimum Qualifications: A Bachelor?s degree with three (3) years of relevant consumer advocate or public service experience. A preference will be shown to candidates with knowledge and experience relating to postsecondary issues, trends, demographic changes, social conditions, and postsecondary education needs, opportunities and requirements.Knowledge of:
1. Administrative practices of public and private postsecondary education.
2. State and Federal rules and regulations as they apply to public and private postsecondary institutions and colleges; approval of courses, granting of degrees and issuing of diplomas.
3. Principles, practices and trends in public and private postsecondary education, professional, technical, and vocational educational programs.
4. Counseling and interview techniques sufficient to collect evidence from witnesses, complainants, victims, and third party sources.
5. Rules to determine appropriate methods for resolving disputes.Ability to:
1. Ability to understand and relate to the student consumer experience.
2. Establish and maintain cooperative working relationships with a wide variety of personnel, including fiscal, and business office, and legal personnel.
3. Communicate effectively; both orally and in writing.
4. Analyze situations accurately and take effective action.
5. Formulate, carry out and monitor studies, surveys, and projects.
6. Exercise tact, resourcefulness and good judgment with a variety of individuals and groups.
7. Interpret statutory requirements by the development of effective operating rules and regulations.
8. Contribute positively to a safe and productive work environment.
9. Gather facts and related documents for a thorough investigation of cases under review.
10. Communicate in a manner that is understandable to stakeholders of all backgrounds.
11. Prepare formal documents, as well as, technical reports on topics related to the incumbent?s responsibilities.
12. Identify and categorize trends in consumer complaints about fraud or misrepresentations by all postsecondary institutions.
13. Work collaboratively with supervisor to analyze issues, conduct independent research and decide on a proper course of action.
14. Use appropriate methods for resolving disputes.
15. Carry out the responsibilities of this position in a non-discriminatory and consistent manner.
16. Practice discretion in communication about work activities.Special Requirements:
1. Incumbent must be willing and able to travel independently throughout the State.2. Possession of a valid driver license or the ability to provide one?s own transportation, including personal automobile insurance and vehicle, for work use. Note: mileage compensation is paid to employees approved for use of personal motor vehicle for official work duties.Requires occasionally lifting and/or carrying such articles as file folders, ledgers, and small tools. Although a sedentary job is defined as one which invo
Preferred Qualifications: Master?s Degree or a Juris Doctorate degree with relevant postsecondary and consumer advocacy or public service experience.
Selection Process: The selection process is a resume-based, skill-matching process. Resumes of all applicants to this posting will be evaluated against the Minimum Qualifications stated above. If your skills match the required skills for this position, the department may contact you.If you have already submitted a resume to this database within the last 12 months that clearly identifies your knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience, you do not need to submit another.
How to Apply: Most State selection processes utilize a resume-based screening process. You will be contacted by agency staff if your background best matches the selection criteria on this job posting. To apply for this position, click the APPLY box found at the bottom of this job announcement. For additional information about the State?s selection process, go to <http://www.careers.state.mn.us/job-tip>.
Contact for More Information: Lynne Richard, Human Resources, 651/259-3941 / lynne.richard@state.mn.us.
  • Guest

    This is great news for students and taxpayers. Too many schools, especially the for-profit sector need to have some state (any) neutral oversight. They’ve lost their higher educational purpose in exchange for profit due to entrapraneurs leading the school rather than education administrators who value learning.