Bridgepoint Booms Over Troubled Waters

Signs of Bridgepoint Education’s newfound prominence in San Diego begin as you’re flying into the city’s downtown Lindbergh Field airport. A few seconds before you land, you’ll swoop past its name and logo, displayed in huge white letters at the top of 600 B Street, a downtown high-rise.

Bridgepoint announced its move into that building last spring, the same year the for-profit higher education company put its name on the Holiday Bowl college football game. The same year it began sponsoring the San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops series. The same year it injected itself into San Diego’s political consciousness by donating to a campaign and lobbying city leaders for the first time.

Four years ago, Bridgepoint was barely a blip in San Diego. Today, it’s made itself impossible to miss. Its operating profits have increased 5,000 percent during that time, to $216 million last year, and it’s now the county’s fifth-largest private employer. The latest phase of Bridgepoint’s extraordinary growth has been putting its indelible stamp on the city it calls home.

"It was just — Boom! They’re here," said Steve Cushman, a prominent businessman who worked with the company to secure the naming rights for the Holiday Bowl.

But Bridgepoint is undergoing another recent boom: Controversy.

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