TN independent college president backs away from Trump administration job

Claude Pressnell, president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, has withdrawn from consideration for  the job of assistant secretary for postsecondary education in the U.S. Department of Education, according to Inside Higher Education.

It’s the second time in recent weeks that a candidate for a high-profile role at the department has said “no thanks” to the department deep in the vetting process. And it underscores the slow progress since January in making key political hires to round out Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s team.

Pressnell said in the email to presidents of TICUA member institutions that he and DeVos had discussed since April the possibility of his being appointed to the assistant secretary position by President Trump.

“Whereas it was a great honor to be approached about accepting the appointment, after arduous consideration I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration,” he wrote. “The TICUA Board of Directors very graciously worked with me through this process. This was one of the most difficult decisions of my career, but I am thrilled to continue my work with TICUA.”

Pressnell declined to comment on the email or the reasons for his decision.

The department declined to comment about its hiring efforts. Some well-connected Republicans cautioned that filling senior staff positions doesn’t always happen quickly and said several experienced officials are helping manage the department on an interim basis.

But others have expressed frustration with the slow pace of the personnel moves five months into the administration. And it doesn’t appear that there is a pipeline of other candidates to fill the assistant secretary job or the deputy secretary position turned down by the E&A Industries co-founder Allan Hubbard earlier this month.

“It’s depressing, and they really need to get somebody and get somebody soon,” said Vic Klatt, a principal at the Penn Hill Group and a former education staff member for Republican lawmakers in the House. “Particularly with an upcoming negotiated rule-making process scheduled and the fact that they’re supposed to reauthorize the Higher Education Act this Congress, we need somebody and we need them quickly.

One Response to TN independent college president backs away from Trump administration job

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Or the Republicans can satisfy an old platform promise and abolish the Department of Education and keep education decision making and funding where it belongs, with the states through their local school boards. Or we can really be progressive and think outside of the box by abolishing government schools altogether and let private enterprise handle education with government oversight like we do with utilities.

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