Laureate Education Inc., a for-profit higher education network based in Baltimore, has named Victoria Silbey as senior vice president and chief legal officer, effective Sept. 7. She succeeds Robert Zentz, who is retiring after 20 years as Laureate's GC.
Silbey joins Laureate after 20 years on the in-house legal team at SunGard Data Systems Inc., a privately held software and services company based in Wayne, Pennsylvania. She served as SunGard's chief legal officer since January 2005, according to her LinkedIn profile. Before taking that position, she was assistant general counsel at SunGard.
"We are excited to welcome Victoria, an impressive and experienced leader to the Laureate team," said a statement from Eilif Serck-Hanssen, Laureate's president and chief administrative officer. "Her diverse combination of expertise in the legal, business, and technology fields, in addition to her outcome-driven leadership credentials, are a perfect match for our company."
Laureate has more than 1 million students enrolled in nearly 70 institutions in 25 countries, both at campuses and online, according to its website. Most of its campuses are located in Latin America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, with five in the United States.
Silbey, who could not be reached for comment, said in a statement, "Laureate has a unique business model with an unprecedented global reach that provides access to education in underserved markets around the world. I'm looking forward to the challenges and opportunities."
The company does face some legal challenges. According to its annual financial report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed in March, several individual and groups of students have sued Laureate's Walden University, an online school, claiming the school delayed their program and unjustly enriched itself. The students seek class action certification.
Laureate said in the filing that the company and Walden University "intend to defend against this case vigorously, including the request to certify a nationwide class."
In addition, several groups of current and former students have sued Laureate's University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences Inc., alleging the school misrepresented a masters degree program as conferring the ability to practice as a licensed physician assistant with a specialty in orthopedics. The alleged misconduct occurred before Laureate acquired the university in November 2013, and the company said it expects to be indemnified by the seller for any liability arising from the claims.
The former chief accounting officer of the company also has sued Laureate, claiming retaliatory employment practices after he alleged Laureate was violating accounting and SEC rules. The company said it has investigated the allegations and found them without merit and "intends to continue to defend itself vigorously" in the case.
The company also said it is fighting an $11.5 million tax assessment in Spain after the tax authority there rejected certain deductions by Laureate subsidiaries.
And Laureate is dealing with political and regulatory developments in Turkey and Chile that it said could have a material adverse effect on its operations, according to its most recent quarterly filing with the SEC on Aug. 8. The Chile matter involves a newly introduced Higher Education Bill in the Chilean Congress that establishes new requirements for education institutions.
The Turkey matter involves Laureate's Istanbul Bilgi University, which was told in April that an audit showed some $37 million was improperly paid to one or more Laureate subsidiaries and must be returned to Bilgi. Laureate said in the quarterly filing it is appealing the audit findings to the Turkish court system.