Still no deputy, but other appointments are starting to come fast and furious.
The Department announced that Robert Shireman will serve as deputy undersecretary, and Massie Ritsch will be deputy assistant secretary for External Affairs and Outreach.
Shireman’s appointment shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone who has been following President Barack Obama’s higher ed. policy. He had a huge hand in crafting those bombshell student loan proposals that came out as part of Obama’s preliminary budget. Shireman founded the Institute for College Access and Success and the Project on Student Debt, a research and advocacy organization. And he was an adviser to U.S. Sen. Paul Simon.
“Bob is the man,” Barmak Nassirian, the associate director of external relations over at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, once told me. He said that Shireman has played a pivotal role in just about every good thing to come out of student lending policy in recent years.
Ritsch will be in charge of outreach to education associations, foundations, and think-tanks. He was the communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics, which put out a lot of good dirt on campaign finance. Before that, he was vice-president for Sugarman Communications, where he helped build support for charter schools and universal pre-K in L.A., according to a bio circulated by the Ed. Department. And, like another new Obama administration appointee, he’s an ex-journalist who covered education and the 2000 presidential race for the L.A. Times.