President-elect Donald Trump nominated Betsy DeVos P07 as the Secretary of Education for his administration.
DeVos previously served as the Republican Party chair in Michigan, and is married to Dick DeVos, who was the CEO of Amway, a consumer goods distribution company. Dick DeVos delivered the inaugural Doll Family Lecture in Religion and Money at the University in April 2007 entitled: "Philanthropy...It's Definitely not for Wimps!: Reflections on Faith and Finance."
DeVos' daughter, Elisabeth DeVos '07, graduated from the University with a degree in Architecture. Her senior thesis was titled: Thomas Demand: or an Encounter with Blankness, and was advised by School of Architecture Professor Stanley Allen GS '88. Elisabeth DeVos is married to Nathan Lowery '06. The couple reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Betsy DeVos and her husband have also donated to the University. According to public records, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation donated $50,000 to the University in 2004 and 2013, $1,000 in 2002, and $2,500 in 2003. In addition, the foundation donated $50,000 in 2005 to the University's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.
The donations were reported in 2014.
DeVos is a Republican donor and philanthropist, and chairs the Windquest Group, which invests in clean energy and manufacturing initiatives in Michigan. She also chairs the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation and the American Federation for Children, which supports charter school expansion across the United States. DeVos served on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and is a supporter of school choice, school vouchers, and the Common Core education standards.
The selection of DeVos triggered mixed responses from education advocates. In an interview with Politico, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of National Education Association, described DeVos as someone who has "consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education."
"By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities," an NEA statement reads.
However, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, praised DeVos' selection as an excellent choice during an interview with The Washington Post. He further stated that he expects DeVos to halt the efforts of the Obama administration to "turn the federal government into a 'national school board'."
Like most cabinet-level officials, DeVos would require Senate confirmation before assuming office.