College Association’s New Leader Plans a Charm Offensive

In the past, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities has pressed its case about the value of for-profit colleges through campaign contributions, as well as by mocking traditional colleges as elitist and community colleges as impersonal.

Now the association's new president, a former congressman, is putting a halt to the jabs—and possibly the contributions, too.

"You will never hear me or other Apscu officials criticize any of my colleagues in higher education," said Steven Gunderson, who took the helm of the group a few weeks ago. "I'm going to change this culture. We've got to be seen as partners and allies."

Mr. Gunderson will make a debut of sorts next week when he speaks to an assembly of for-profit-education leaders gathering here for the association's annual Hill Day lobbying event. He said he intends to use his speech to tell Apscu's members that they need to get used to the public and political scrutiny that the for-profit sector has been drawing.

In an interview this week with The Chronicle, Mr. Gunderson said the industry needs to accept "three S's": that as for-profit colleges grow in size and the number of services they provide, the level of scrutiny they're subjected to will inevitably grow too.

"I used the same three S's in philanthropy," said Mr. Gunderson, who previously was president of the Council on Foundations.

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