James Kvaal, a special assistant to President Obama on the White House National Economic Council, will replace Robert M. Shireman as the Education Department’s top political appointee on higher-education issues.
Mr. Kvaal, who will join the department as deputy under secretary of education on June 7, comes to the job with a wealth of experience in higher-education policy, including several years as a Congressional aide and time as a senior policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. Before joining the economic council, in February of last year, he was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal public-policy group.
It’s unclear whether Mr. Kvaal will continue on the course set by Mr. Shireman, a darling of student and consumer groups but a bogeyman to lenders and the for-profit sector, or chart a new direction for the department. Officials at for-pprofit colleges, who have come under increased scrutiny under Mr. Shireman, had hoped that his successor would back off. In interviews, they said they doubted Mr. Kvaal would abandon an Education Department plan to cut off federal student aid to for-profit programs whose graduates carry high debt-to-income loads.
Still, Tom E. Netting, a lobbyist who represents for-profit colleges, described Mr. Kvaal as "fair and balanced."
"I have always known him to be a very direct and forthcoming individual who has really dug into issues to understand them," he said.
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