President Donald J. Trump has named Religious Right favorite son Jerry Falwell Jr. to lead a committee tasked with finding ways to deregulate higher education.
Falwell, president of the fundamentalist Liberty University his father founded in Virginia, was an early supporter of Trump’s presidency. Falwell previously said he was offered but declined the position of secretary of education, a job that instead went to school privatization proponent Betsy DeVos. The task force will work under the direction of the U.S. Department of Education.
“The task force will be a big help to her,” Falwell said of DeVos, who’s been criticized for lacking experience in public and higher education. “It will do some of the work for her.”
Falwell said the task force will focus on the “overreaching regulation” and micromanagement at the Department of Education, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The journal indicated Falwell especially will target rules initiated under former President Barack Obama that assisted students left with worthless diplomas and mounting debt after their for-profit colleges collapsed. The Obama administration also strengthened the accrediting standards for colleges whose students receive federal financial aid.
“The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” Falwell said. “I’ve got notebooks full of issues.”
Falwell’s task of deregulating the department comes just a few months after Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits brought by students who claimed they were defrauded by his for-profit Trump University.