Department of Education Political Appointee Calendars

Calendars for senior political appointees at the U.S. Department of Education covering the time period from each official’s appointment through July 2017. These records also include communications with representatives of the DeVry Education Group, which has since become Adtalem Global Education. In 2016, DeVry agreed to pay a $100 million settlement in a federal lawsuit for falsely advertising the success of graduates. The emails here show that representatives of DeVry lobbied the Department of Education to roll back the Obama administration’s gainful employment rule, which required most for-profit colleges and career training programs to show that their graduates’ loan payments were not too high relative to their earnings, or risk their program’s federal student aid eligibility. Secretary Betsy DeVos repealed the gainful employment rule in July 2019. 

Records received through June 2018


The above records include calendar entries from:

  • Joshua Venable – Chief of Staff p. 675
  • Eric Ventimiglia – Special Assistant p. 1307
  • Robert Eitel – Special Assistant p. 1631
  • Ebony Lee – Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy p. 2005
  • Lee-Douglas Simmons – Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations p. 2705
  • Jason Botel – Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary p. 3101
  • James Manning – Senior Adviser to the Secretary p. 3388
  • Taylor Hansen – Special Assistant to the Secretary (former) p. 3557

This is the second version of the senior staff calendars for this time period that the Department of Education produced in response to American Oversight’s lawsuit. The earlier production is available here.

Records received October 2018


In these Records:

Calendar Entries for political appointees at the U.S. Department of Education in early 2017. The Department of Education did not clearly indicate which entries relate to which appointees’ calendars.

Records received December 2018


In these records:

Calendars for former U.S. Department of Education advisor Andrew Kossack from the start of 2017 through the time when he left the department to join the office of Vice President Mike Pence.

Records received February 2019

Records received March through June 2019

In these records:

Dec. 5, 2016: Lisa Wardell — then CEO of DeVry Education Group, now known as Adtalem Global Education — sent a memorandum to then President-elect Donald Trump. In it, Wardell mentions a September visit with campaign staff at Trump Tower and lists education policy suggestions, including the creation of a commission to “align our out-of-sync education and workforce systems.” Wardell wrote: “I would happily volunteer my time and DeVry Group’s expertise to serve on the Commission.”

Jan. 20, 2017: Wardell sent a letter to White House Adviser Robert Goad to thank him for an invitation to a listening session that had taken place a week before. The letter refers to their discussion of the gainful employment rule. Wendell wrote: “As we discussed in the listening session, our most immediate concern is amending the GE regulation to assure it does not lead to the closure of high-quality and highly-needed programs.” 

March 20, 2017: Christopher Murray, a lobbyist and adviser at Thompson Coburn LLP, emailed Goad with the subject line “Meeting Request for Secretary DeVos: Lisa Wardell.” Murray wrote to Goad, “The main purpose of this meeting is to share the impact of the gainful employment rule on Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.”

Murray later emailed three document attachments containing background information for the meeting: “Taken together, these documents give additional detail on Lisa’s desire to speak about the impact of gainful employment on Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, and they demonstrate Lisa’s commitment to working with the Secretary and the Administration to forge common-sense solutions.” 

March 30, 2017: A meeting was planned between Wardell and DeVos, though DeVos’ calendars suggest that the meeting was canceled. Goad was among the attendees expected to be present. 

In July 2019, DeVos issued a final repeal of the gainful employment rule. 

Records received in August and September 2019

The above records include calendar entries from:

  • Jana Toner – Staffer at the Immigration Office for the Secretary of Education
  • Jason Botel – Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education