Vista College founder and former CEO explains what led to the school’s closure

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) — Vista College closed all of its campuses in 2021, including the College Station campus, and now the for-profit school’s former CEO and founder is sharing more details about what he says him, led to its closure.

In August last year, in-person registration was suspended and employees in Texas would be laid off following what Jim Tolbert describes as significant impacts on business operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. .

Tolbert on Monday afternoon explained to News 3’s Rusty Surette what led to these challenges.

“We had a senior bank loan with a Chicago-based bank called Wintrust Bank. Wintrust informed us in July last year that they were not going to renew our loan. However, they asked me as the CEO and I believe as a longtime good manager of their money if I wanted to buy the loan at a discount. Well, I was able, along with a group of other partners, to purchase that loan and prevent our business from closing last July,” Tolbert said.

“Unfortunately, given business conditions, we were unable to keep the business open after October when it finally closed. It’s just business reality, it’s resource reality, and one of the things we tried to do when the school was closed was to do it as well as possible, ”said Tolbert. .

However, this attempt did not go as well as expected.

Many students and staff who spoke to KBTX last year felt caught off guard by the abrupt closure, and Tolbert said it could have been handled better.

“It wasn’t a good ending and I’m not going to say the opposite. A lot of people’s studies were interrupted and a lot of people lost their jobs, and that’s a fact. Did something been done in retrospect who could have saved the company? I don’t know,” said Tolbert, who added that when the shutdown happened he had already left the company.

“I didn’t participate in many of those decisions. In fact, I technically quit before the school closed and was not involved in the decision to close the school, nor the decision to file for bankruptcy. However, in an effort to have no unpaid debts, the business closed at the end of the pay period, so no one was due payroll and the business underwent a closing audit very rigorous with the US Department of Education to make sure there were no outstanding debts regarding federal financial aid,” Tolbert said.

Vista College was founded in 2006 by Tolbert, who says his mission was to expand educational opportunities to small, underserved communities, including College Station, Killeen, Beaumont, Longview and El Paso. There were also campuses in New Mexico and Arkansas.

“We were very proud of what we were able to do,” Tolbert said. “We are extremely proud of the professional and career opportunities we have been able to provide to communities, and one of the things that I do not hesitate to brag about is that during the time we are open, more than 20,000 people have graduated from one of our schools, so I think we’ve had a very positive impact on the communities that we see.

Tolbert is now Chancellor of Universidad Santander USA, a school that aims to help non-English speaking residents achieve their educational goals. It also invests in rural hospital hospitals across the country. He explains his new work in more detail in our interview and you can watch it, unedited, by clicking on the video player above.

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