Ashland University Administrator Defends Dissertation

Ashland University Administrator Defends Dissertation

Michael Hollenbaugh, executive director of Graduate, Online and Adult Enrollment Management at Ashland University, has successfully defended his doctoral dissertation and will graduate with his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration on Dec. 18 at Kent State University. Hollenbaugh, a resident of Barberton, successfully defended his dissertation titled, “Black Letter Law and The For Profit College,” on Nov. 3 at Kent State.

According to Hollenbaugh, the purpose of his study was to identify, aggregate and synthesize the consumer protection law surrounding for-profit colleges in order to determine if the current decentralized system of regulation, law, and policy provides adequate protections for students attending for-profit institutions.

The study answered the following questions. (1) What federal and state laws regulate the operation of for-profit postsecondary institutions? (2) What federal and state laws regulate marketing and advertising at for-profit postsecondary institutions? (3) What federal laws regulate the gainful employment for students attending for-profit postsecondary institutions? (4) How have the courts interpreted and applied the laws (constitutional, statutory, and regulatory) identified in questions 1-3 above.

This dissertation used legal research methodology to uncover the protections afforded by the United States legal system for those students attending for-profit institutions. Statutorily, for-profit institutions are treated differently, regardless if the legislative forum is at the federal or state level. By revealing each state and federal law, its application, and its treatment by the courts, the weaknesses inherent in a decentralized regulatory system are revealed.

The research reviewed in this dissertation revealed the disjointed nature of state law, which, along with the lack of strong federal oversight, has created unequal protections for consumers of for-profit education. A strong centralized system is needed to protect educational businesses and their consumers, the students.

Hollenbaugh and his wife, Dr. Erin Hollenbaugh, who is an associate professor and program coordinator of Communication Studies at Kent State University at Stark, have two children, Jack and Sophia.

Hollenbaugh started his administrative career at Stautzenberger College, a small for-profit college owned by American Higher Education Corp. Following Statzenberger, Michael worked for a large, privately owned and operated direct marketing company, InfoCision Management Corporation, where he managed inbound and outbound communication strategies for institutions such as Chamberlain College of Nursing, DeVry College of Business, Keller Graduate School of Management and Argosy University.

After working for a small private for-profit institution and a direct marketing firm, he went on to work at Kent State University and Hiram College before coming to Ashland University in January of 2014.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###