By SHANNON MORTLAND
hancellor University has existed
quietly at Chester Avenue and East
40th Street since it transformed from
financially downtrodden Myers
University two years ago.
But behind the blue and silver façade,
the for-profit school has been plagued by a
revolving door of executives, has resorted to
unconventional recruiting practices such as
hitting up homeless shelters to build enroll-
ment and is fighting to maintain its accredi-
tation. It’s a far cry from the high hopes once
touted by Chancellor’s new owners.
Significant Partners LLC of Solana Beach,
Calif., bought Chancellor in September 2008
for $5.25 million. The purchase followed years
of financial struggles for Myers University,
which had failed to close deals with multiple
Initially, Significant Partners, headed by
Michael Clifford, had grand plans to build
Chancellor into a sizable school that offered
classes in person and online. And, by all measures,
Chancellor seemed to be off to a good start.
Significant Partners reduced undergraduate
tuition by 30% and lowered graduate tuition by
14%, increased full-time faculty to 26 from 16
and created 30 online courses. Mr. Clifford
also convinced former General Electric Co.
CEO Jack Welch to invest $2 million into what
is now the Jack Welch Management Institute,
the online MBA program launched this year at
operating officer, told Crain’s for a story that
ran in May 2009 that the goal was to reach
1,050 students by fall 2010, which would
allow Chancellor to break even.
Instead, Chancellor reported only 422 students
as of April 2010, prior to spring commence-
ment, according to the Higher Learning
Commission in Chicago, which accredits
Chancellor. Catherine Nita, Chancellor’s
executive director of human resources, would
not disclose current enrollment.
Who’s at the helm?
Mr. Clifford declined to speak to Crain’s for
this story, as did several other Chancellor
employees. Mr. Clifford’s public relations