Walden University

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Group.png Walden University  
Walden Seal Color.png
MottoA higher degree. A higher purpose.
HeadquartersMinneapolis, Minnesota
Type• Private
• Public Benefit Corporation
InterestsClinton Foundation
Private online university with deep ties to the Clintons

Walden University is a private online for-profit university headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Its previous owner Laureate Education Inc had significant ties to the Clinton Foundation. Bill Clinton received $16 million through early 2015 for the part-time position of Presidential Chancellor. In exchange, Laureate, which has an insatiable appetite for enrolling students, can lure in students with slick advertising featuring Bill Clinton praise and pictures, but miring them in huge student debt.[1]


Walden was established in 1970 by two New York teachers, Bernie and Rita Turner, who created a program for working adults/teachers to pursue doctoral degrees. In the summer of 1971, the first classes took place in Naples, Florida, focusing primarily on school administrators. In 1972, Walden conferred its first degrees: 46 PhDs and 24 EdDs at its first commencement in Naples.

In 1979, the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board licensed Walden to grant PhDs and EdDs in the state and in 1982 the school moved its headquarters to Minneapolis.

The Clintons

Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc., purchased 41 percent of Walden University in 2001,[2] gaining a controlling interest in 2002.[3] In 2004, Sylvan Learning Systems became Laureate Education, Inc. Former US President Bill Clinton was an Honorary Chancellor of Laureate International Universities from 2010 to 2015.[4] President Clinton was the keynote speaker at Walden University's commencement on July 30, 2011. Jonathan Kaplan served as CEO from 2007 to 2018. Kaplan previously served three years as economic policy adviser to President Clinton.[5]

In 2013, Laureate Education Inc. and GSV Capital, IFC, Learn Capital and Yuri Milner provided $43M in funding to Coursera to expand online education.[6] In 2015, Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico and director of the Yale University Center for the Study of Globalization, succeeded President Clinton as Laureate Education's Presidential Chancellor. Clinton received $16 million through early 2015 for the part-time position [7]

Walden University and its previous parent company Laureate International Universities have deep ties to Hillary Clinton, her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, and their Clinton Foundation.[8][9]

Student debt

In 2016, Looney and Yannelis (Brookings Institution) reported that Walden University student loan debt was the second highest in the US, with 120,275 students owing $9.8 billion. While the 5-year student default rate was low (7 percent), the percentage of balance repaid on the loans was 0 percent.[10]

According to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Walden University graduated the largest number of African American doctoral students from 2011 to 2015.[11] From 2013 to 2017, the number of doctorates "awarded to Black people" from Walden University was 969, more than two and a half times the number conferred by Howard University, which awarded 344 doctorates during the same period.[12] Walden University awards the most doctorates to African Americans among 377 accredited U.S. institutions, according to the National Science Foundation's 2018 survey.[13] Walden is the top granter of healthcare administration master's degrees, Master of Science in Nursing degrees, and public health doctoral degrees in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS database.[14]

In October 2016, NBC News reported that the Minnesota Office of Higher Education was investigating a spike in student complaints.[15] NBC News further reported that former students had filed a class action suit against the school for prolonging their enrollments for years, "until they were left hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and still short of a degree."[16]

In September 2020, Adtalem Global Education began the process of purchasing Walden University.[17] In August 2021, Adtalem Global Education Inc completed its acquisition of Walden University for $1.48 billion.

In July 2021, Paula R. Singer was appointed as the interim president of Walden University. Singer was previously the Chair of the Board of Walden University.[18]

The university is owned by Adtalem Global Education, which purchased the university in August 2021.


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  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20160702065448/http://www.stonezone.com/article.php?id=751
  2. https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2001/02/05/daily4.htm
  3. https://web.archive.org/web/20170811010416/https://business.highbeam.com/434953/article-1G1-146964887/sylvan-gains-controlling-interest-walde
  4. http://www.thestreet.com/story/10736185/2/walden-university-press-release-president-bill-clinton-accepts-role-as-honorary-chancellor-of-worlds-largest-university-network.html
  5. https://www.waldenu.edu/about/who-we-are/leadership/jonathan-kaplan
  6. GSV Capital. "Coursera Secures $43M in Funding From GSV Capital, IFC, Laureate Education Inc., Learn Capital and Yuri Milner to Expand Free, High Quality Online Education". Press release. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ABEA-5XHB8Q/0x0x675055/a3335f64-40fc-4808-b67a-3c937cd36bc1/GSVC_News_2013_7_10_General_Releases.pdf. Retrieved November 7, 2017. 
  7. http://www.stonezone.com/article.php?id=751#sthash.tDpBbT0U.dpuf
  8. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/83878190-4b64-11e6-88c5-db83e98a590a.html
  9. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/laureate-a-for-profit-education-firm-finds-international-success-with-a-clintons-help/2014/01/16/13f8adde-7ca6-11e3-9556-4a4bf7bcbd84_story.htm
  10. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/StudentLoanDefaults_Looney_FINAL.pdf
  11. https://www.jbhe.com/2017/02/the-heavyweight-champion-of-black-doctoral-degree-awards/
  12. https://www.jbhe.com/2018/12/the-universities-awarding-the-most-doctoral-degrees-to-black-scholars-2/
  13. https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf20301/data-tables#tableCtr1735
  14. https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/use-the-data
  15. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/profit-walden-u-once-tied-bill-clinton-put-under-review-n661281
  16. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/student-sues-walden-university-i-wasted-six-years-my-life-n690706
  17. {https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200911005273/en/Adtalem-Acquire-Walden-University-Laureate-Education-Creating
  18. https://www.waldenu.edu/about/faculty/meet-our-faculty/member-profile/ward-ulmer