President of Hillsdale College Larry Arnn speaks at Spring commencement | Collegian
President of Hillsdale College Larry Arnn speaks at spring commencement | Collegian

As President-elect Donald Trump started filling his cabinet last week, speculation has grown around Hillsdale’s own President Larry Arnn as a potential pick for the secretary of education.

In an email exchange with The Collegian, Arnn confirmed that his name has been one of many suggested to fill Trump’s administration with qualified individuals, but he declined to give any specifics.

“[Trump] has a lot of jobs to fill,” Arnn said. “Names fly around at light speed. Mine is one of the minor names. This is not the first time this has happened to me.”

Arnn said in a follow-up email that he is unsure of the specifics regarding if he was on an official shortlist but promised that he will keep the college’s best interests at the forefront of the decision.

“Some people of influence would like for me to do it,” Arnn said. “They are not the people who would decide. If those people decide to ask me, then I will make a decision. I will make no decision that I think would harm the college or result in my permanent separation from it.”

A variety of sources have also confirmed on background that Arnn’s name was floated as a potential pick for secretary of education.

A congressional staffer confirmed to The Collegian that in a conversation, top Trump adviser Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, expressed that Sessions was sympathetic to the idea of Arnn as a potential secretary of education.

A Michigan-based Trump campaign volunteer said Arnn’s name has been considered and is on a shortlist of candidates.

On Wednesday, numerous tweets increased speculation that he is a finalist.

“Just told LARRY ARNN of Hillsdale is finalist for Secretary of Education,” tweeted Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, a conservative-based 501(c)(4).

In addition, conservative political commentator and radio personality Rush Limbaugh discussed it on his show on Wednesday, stating that he was thrilled at the prospect of Arnn taking on a role in Trump’s Cabinet.

“Can you imagine if Larry Arnn ended up as education secretary?”  Limbaugh said. “You put him in there at education and Cruz or Jeff Sessions as attorney general — look, I’m here to tell you that the names I have seen floated are more solid and better in terms of conservatism than your average Republican nominee would put together.”

Arnn would be an interesting choice for secretary of education, given Arnn’s frequent lectures against the bureaucratic state and regulatory agencies. Last year, when Hillsdale was excluded from the Education Department’s College Scorecard website and labeled as a “certificate degree-granting institution,” Arnn expressed his dissatisfaction with its analysis.

“Hillsdale College, 1844. United States Department of Education, 1979,” Arnn said. “The latter has never been very good at history or even current affairs.”

The Education Department has since labeled the misidentification of Hillsdale as a certificate degree-granting institution an error.

According to Politico, other names in consideration for secretary of education include Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana; William Evers, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution; and the former chancellor of Washington, D.C.’s public schools, Michelle Rhee.

This is the second time during the course of this election season that Arnn’s name was dropped for a Capitol Hill position. Following the resignation of former Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, in October 2015, Steve Hayes, Weekly Standard senior writer, said in a Fox News segment that Arnn would be a quality choice for the position.

“There’s a reason he rose to the top of my head,” Hayes told The Collegian at the time. “He’s intelligent, serious, and has a background with understanding statesmanship. Having spent hours in the classroom and in lectures he’s given, I know he understands what’s at the heart of the republic.”

Arnn said he wasn’t seriously considering leaving Hillsdale for Capitol Hill at that time, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, was chosen.

Numerous Hillsdale students said they would be ecstatic, if Arnn were to take a position in Trump’s administration.

“I’m not a fan of the Department of Education, like a lot of students here,” freshman Alexis Nester said. “But I’m sure if appointed, he would work to reduce it.”

Some members of Hillsdale’s politics department, however, said it’s way too early to speculate on political appointments.

But politics department chairman Mickey Craig said it would be a blessing to have someone with Arnn’s experience in the Cabinet.

“I think Arnn would be a great secretary of education,” Craig said. “As a college president, he has dealt with the education department and a lot of the idiotic things they do. He has studied politics and the Constitution. It would be good for him to be at the Cabinet table.”

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Thomas Novelly
Collegian Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Novelly was born in Novi, Michigan, but was raised in Franklin, Tennessee, making him a self-proclaimed "Yankee gone South." Thomas began writing for The Collegian as a sophomore, and since has served as a reporter, columnist, and Assistant City News Editor. He has also worked for two major publications, interning at the Washington Free Beacon in D.C. and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has been seen in National publications such as CBS News, National Review Online, Stars And Stripes, and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.
  • Diane VanHandel

    This would be such a great loss for Hillsdale, but an incredible win for the USA and education! It would right the ship that is currently sinking!

  • Marcy Almay

    Oh good! Does this mean Hillsdale College students will then actually get DORMS and maybe all the cruise line charters to RUSSIA, (lol) and for profit hotels, and the multi million dollar untaxable postage the college costs this community and the ridiculous plans for that hilarious cathedral and all the scamming of seniors out of their life savings, and burdening this community with their out of state lobby/charter school work will end? Would be nice if that ridiculous man would stop financially beating on this community and go wreck the federal government! Maybe he’ll be prosecuted, once he brings his tactics to the federal level and they realize what a scam artist/civil rights violator he really is.

    The funny thing is? How the college denies FASFA, then in a backpeddling based on their whining, gets standing with the Dept of Ed for academia and sports? That actually is brilliant fraud, really, undoing all the penalties they faced for claiming to be INDEPENDENT, while being able to run for profit stuff under a non profit umbrella corporation?

    It really has to be the most brilliant scam I think I’ve ever seen. Too bad its the students and this county who pay the price for it all.

    The “Christian” aspect of the non profit school rights? That’s for those schools who are governed by a hierachy of some religion’s review panels and such. And IRS tax codes only allow those churches who FOUNDED a school to govern those schools for a “religious” qualification.

    Bad news guys: you’re all baptists, LOL! Like it, or not, per the legislative/regulatory intent of the exemption from taxes Hillsdale College claimed all these years to deny any adherence to civil rights, disability rights, and reporting of criminal statistics per Dept of Ed criteria.

    Arnn can try and change that from that job though. Should be fun to watch the IRS say “omg, WHAT?” LOL!

    Tax dollars and tax exemptions come with a price and not paying THEIR FAIR SHARE surely will have them held responsible for it, and after all, the college’s whole stance about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY covers THEIR behavior too, right?

    Their charter school initiative would be a wonderful thing, but since OUR COMMUNITY bears the financial burden of their private endeavors to open public schools out of state based on the model here of the on campus academy’s “christian” school?

    There’s something about it that just seems like getting to have donations be untaxable, and having a 1/3 of their college students forced into homeless status every year while cruises are chartered and radio stations are opened, and cathedrals are being built?

    Sure does make me wonder, but that’s just my opinion. Sorry if y’all disagree, but I think this college’s “independent” claims is BS. They cause problems for this area not only in not paying into taxes at all to operate here, their failure to give their student the agreed to housing, pulling that scam after the kids have a year or two in, daring them to switch schools if they don’t like finding their own housing?

    It’s disgusting to me, and harmful to the local economy to have 450 students in the low cost housing units here instead of in promised on campus housing, where stories in your publication note they WANT to be.

    Just sayin’, I won’t miss Arnn. Hillsdale County should rejoice to have him be in DC where he should be for all the bantering he does with a christian college’s reputation.

    Sadly, you guys do realize, a christian qualification means that NO POLITICS can be discussed or tax exempt Non Profit status can be yanked, right?

    Do the math on that.

    • Robert Schilling

      Here’s my math. You wrote 15 paragraphs and over 600 words yet have made no clear point. Did you mean to say:
      – students of Hillsdale should have on-campus housing?
      – Hillsdale spends money of “extra-campus” items at the expense of students?
      – Hillsdale college is a “bad place”?

      Your post is such a stem winder that it’s almost unreadable. Next time you might try picking ONE POINT to make and then making it succinctly.

      • Wyomingdude

        Obviously not a Hillsdale grad or student.

        • Marcy Almay

          Here’s the real problem, right there. I TALK to students around here, they’re upset about having to find their own housing. You can pull the “snobbery” card all you want, but the truth is, most of their students pay taxes elsewhere, much of their faculty lives outside the county, and many of their “non profit” endeavors are simply not legal use of donations which are earmarked for the good of the school. It’s really too bad that neither one of you had any hard research or facts, just insults to level. Guess that shows that you also think the students being rendered homeless is ok, and the county being raided with no taxes being paid from a “private” non profit that can afford cruise ship charters to Russia, LOL! But hey you guys, you’re welcome! From ALL of us Hillsdale County residents, you’re welcome for the postage WE pay for your copy of the Imprimis, out of property and other taxes the college are exempt from paying into! Handouts are their specialty, as is the handouts they get by claiming to be a school, a christian one at that, yet never acting like one. But wow, if you guys talking to strangers like that is what people are taught for manners as grads, then I feel kind of sorry for the kids there. But the ones I meet are warm personalities that care about people, maybe I’m just not meeting the ones “like” you!

          • SensibleStater

            If they really are upset about finding their own housing, then those students should go to a different school. An overseas trip is a great learning experience for students. What exactly are the handouts that you are talking about? Aren’t their any businesses in your county that have things for the students to buy?

          • Marcy Almay

            Wait, so like, you’re not even IN this county? The overseas trip is NOT for students, it’s public, and for profit, done on OUR tax burden here. The displaced students have caused a low cost housing crisis, this county has 431 homeless youth that can’t even be placed being there’s no units, yet the college refuses to house 450 students. And it’s just plain HORRIBLE to say that kids with a year or two in that get “the letter” throwing them off campus, after they’re “guaranteed” four years of housing should take their hard work they did and go elsewhere, the college should keep their promise to their students! If they can’t run a college, how can Arnn dare to think he can run the US Dept of Ed? The handouts are TAX EXEMPTIONS they get by running as a non profit, they get heavy considerations from property, sales, postage, millions a year they WOULD have paid in had they actually been a stand alone private institution.
            They should put students first, that’s really my only point, but they’re so busy wrecking this community and playing politics from a Baptist educational institution (their founders is what they qualify for 501(c)3 status under, per law) that they lost their focus on BEING a college. It’s a shame! Sorry, I DO live here, and have the right to feel they simply damage this area by state to state tax evasion.

          • SensibleStater

            You are correct that I am not in that county but I do work at a university. I find it hard to believe that an overseas trip is not either for students (with an extra charge to them) or is actually a fund raiser for the school. Your explanation of the housing makes no sense. Are you saying that they have dormitories that would hold the 450 students that you are referring to and they won’t let the students stay there? They must have leprosy or something if that is the case. The university that I work at does not have dormitory space for all its students, but there are plenty of private places that also want to take the students money to provide that service.

          • Marcy Almay

            My mistake. you’re right! No prob! 🙂

      • Marcy Almay

        Thanks for the lessons on how to have an opinion, but that’s what it is, my opinion, wasn’t looking for a grade on it, if that’s your point.

      • K2KR

        Cut her some slack…she’s still hysterical over Hillary’s loss.

    • Wyomingdude

      Hillsdale College is the largest employer in the county. I am sure the “community
      ” would miss the college.

      • Marcy Almay

        Of course it would! But are you saying that them paying some taxes into the community would make them just pick up and leave? We (slightly) were a county that existed before the college came here/was founded. What is so bad about them paying in? And PS how is Wyoming, dude? I LOVE IT THERE! 🙂

      • Last I knew the stamping plant in Jonesville (Martinrea) was the largest employer in Hillsdale County. The Hillsdale Community Hospital is right up there too.

  • Marcy Almay

    And BTW? Imprimis is NOT FREE!! It costs our tax funded postal service $4 million in lost postage revenue a year. And all production is charged to us, in how they pay no taxes to the state or this community to send it around the world, and the same with their pocket constitutions which come with begging letters to donate to them, again TAX FREE.

    Their tax free status? Well, to me, if they don’t pay in? They shouldn’t get all the representation this college demands all the time. Non taxation for full representation of their political views? When does Arnn EVER behave like a reverent Christian? Is there a missions or ministry academic program at all where baptist christian world outreach is done?

    You guys do realize, the intent of the IRS’s religious tax exemptions is to have theological training for fledgling church officials to learn how to lead the church, right?

    Sigh. Nothing they DO is free, and nothing they ARE is free, only to their social leeching off the working class and hedge fund like endowment games.

    Let Arnn deregulate schools, lol! Then when all denominations of religion can claim to be for profit corporate non profits and not abide by ANY rights at all?

    Only rich whites will get educated and he’ll have even more to whine about, claiming uneducated social problemed people are wrecking the US, LOL!

    He’ll CREATE them en masse once he wrecks the Dept of Ed.

    Welcome to the dark ages, replayed, right before our eyes.

  • a_hick_in_hixville

    At least it wasn’t JEB! Bush

  • Robert Schilling

    Note this quote: “But I’m sure if appointed, he would work to reduce it.”. Given that the US Constitution makes NO reference to a Federal role in education as far as funding, curriculum, testing, hiring,… I hope a Secretary Arnn would lay the groundwork for an eventual closing of the Federal Dept. of Education.

    • Marcy Almay

      Well, I almost agree with you, except then, I’d hope that he’d declare the college a “Stand on your own two feet” institution and not take tax exempt status! There’s nothing wrong with being what they are, I am a republican, I agree with deregulation, but not while someone is relying on the government for gains they’re not entitled to.

      • juantolduso2

        I almost agree with you,except that Hillsdale(if you are referring to Dr.Arnn current position) does not “take” any kind of federal aid or help. He has set a very good example of how to do it without the federal intervention for control that generally exist in today’s “higher” education.
        They do precisely as everyone else should but don’t!

        • Ellsworth_Toohey

          The do however take plenty of local aid as a result of their “non-profit” status.

        • Marcy Almay

          Ok, YES they do take federal money! Every dime donated to them is a write off, untaxed, and everything they have from goods to postage to their very property is TAX FREE. They’re not paying IN. They’re a non profit, which the IRS does not allow under its rules to have ANY political advocacy whatsoever for any particular candidate or party or cause or they lose that status.
          I’m not even sure why they were allowed such a status in the first place being they’re Baptist founded, which violates the NP rules in that alone and never should have been granted, because what your FOUNDING institution is can’t be dropped per IRS rules.
          I don’t care if he gets rid of the entire US Dept of Ed, but just let him know, he has to get rid of the IRS too to make the college not be held liable under the Federal Recovery Act for outright fraud for the years they ran a republican lobby in DC out of Hillsdale County tax funds they weren’t contributing too, LOL

          • juantolduso2

            Your attempt to make them sound “illegal” does not work. You are being a political hack and disingenuous to boot! First,they advocate CONSERVATISM, that is not aligned with any party,if you have not realized,that is a philosophy, advocated by “some” Democrats and “many” Republicans,so you are 100% wrong even bringing this up.Can you show us when and to whom your so called “political” contributions from Hillsdale happen? No you can’t. They use the same methods and opportunities available to every other school with their same tax exempt status,so either everyone “mooches” of the taxpayer and is “breaking” the law,or what is more likely,no one is!
            Don’t you think that if anyone hates Hillsdale as much as you do,by now,Hillsdale would have been sued, and lost? With such a big target, I just wonder who could miss that opportunity!

            Wanting to use the government and its power to destroy your political opponents is your desire here, I understand, but remember,you will not always be in control of that power.Some day it may come back at you, and you will see it as unfair and abusive!

          • Marcy Almay

            Would be nice if you were a real person using your real name, but oh well. And sorry this got you so mad, it was an opinion, based on research I did with the IRS qualification for a school to be considered a christian non profit, as Hillsdale College does. It’s also based on what the United States Postal Service allows to be considered a non profit. In what I’ve read, it does seem like the college is breaking the laws/rules/regulations, whatever, being they’re a baptist university and have no “church” hierarchy, which the IRS rules are very specific to note a religious school must be claimed under, (their founders). And yes, I have presented a number of occasions in which the president of the college and the institution have advocated for specific candidates, I’m sure you could google as much or check out the twitter page of the Imprimis, etc., and yes, everyone is entitled to a personal opinion about candidates, but religious schools/churches are not afforded that right IF they want to retain a non profit status. And I DO NOT hate Hillsdale or the college, nor am I a liberal, it’s fine if you believe otherwise, you’re entitled to feel any way you want to, but I am sorry you feel I’m unfair that’s a heavy hit to me, to be perfectly honest. I love research, that’s the research I found! If you can present any other factually based IRS rules, any USPS rules, or any authority of law that states this baptist institution is allowed to by any means indulge in ANY partisan activity at all while qualified as a religious school? I will apologize profusely for offending you or anyone with what I put on here. I’m just an avid reader, and have spoke to quite a few students, and read a few articles about the issue of them being thrown out of campus housing two years in, while the college builds a $28 million dollar cathedral and charters cruises at $90,000 a room for a 12 day trip? To me, in my humble opinion, that showed the character of the administrators, not the institution nor the students nor even the faculty nor the teachings, which I am a conservative, a fan of the college, and of its newsletter. Doesn’t mean I want my taxes to PAY for it though.

          • juantolduso2

            Ha,ha, you say,”it was an opinion”, so “it seems to me”,you write …well….if your case is so “airtight” as you claim, no one is holding you from suing them and publicly discrediting them,right? “in my humble opinion” if you think the admins are corrupt and there is malfeasance, you should be able to easily defeat them,right?
            I’m also happen to be a fan,hence my attempted defense. Love their Constitution 101 project!

    • Marcy Almay

      I wonder, Mr. Schilling, do you honor that no one denomination may in any manner influence the government and believe in things like checks and balances? The “religious freedom” thing wasn’t just to protect people and their right to believe what they willed, it was to protect the government from the type of past mistakes in the world of having a particular religion rule countries. This college is BAPTIST, it was founded as such, and no matter if they dropped the “label” or not, that’s what they are, they weren’t bought out or sold, its the same governance. So when he gets rid of the US Dept of Ed, and then doesn’t have to report crime statistics, (which they enforce in addition to any adherence to civil right concerns) and there’s no checks and balances at all, can the public then yank all funding to schools AND all Non Profit statuses? And I ask as a means of figuring it out, being I DO NOT agree with affirmative action, not at all, but did pay attention to Dr. Arnn’s “Dark Ones” comment and thought that was pretty trashy for an intellectual man to say in this day and age, making me rethink my “rah rah” attitude toward the establishment in that college. The provisions given for an NP status intended for the government to defer to a hierarchy of a denomination of church to handle any problems, but without any, are you honestly figuring that no “checks and balances” should exist in the laws or regulations or rules at all these days? As we modify everything to what is unforeseen contemporary concerns, don’t we owe that to the county’s founders to remain true to at least that aspect of our country’s basic set up?

  • guycooksey

    Arnn is a man who loves the Constitution and education. He would drain the swamp of common core and be a great Education Sec.

  • Friedrich Hayek

    Arnn is a great educator
    and American

  • FriscoDB

    I was skeptical regarding Trump’s intentions during the campaign but so far what we are witnessing in his cabinet building is very promising for a conservative Renaissance in Washington.

  • ReasonedVoice

    Larry Arnn would be a tremendous pick. Imagine children from grade school on up being taught American history and the principles of individual liberty as codified in the Constitution.

    • J4Christ

      What? Are you mad? You mean fewer Minority Grievance 101 courses? The nation would crumble!

  • Steve Yeater

    This would be a great pick

  • Katie

    Wow. Just wow.


    I for one would like to see Larry Elder considered as well.

  • RRdemocrat

    Dr. Arnn would be a fantastic choice for this post!

    I so hope it happens…for the children. They are currently being fed leftist pap which is resulting in a lost generation of useful idiots who can’t take care of themselves.

  • K2KR

    Terrific! I hope Dr. Arnn’s good friend John Eastman is selected as Solicitor General!

    • Jennifer Melfi

      I think we would be better off with John Goodman

  • L. Wm. Roberts

    Dr. Arnn is a great man in every sense but I hope he doesn’t take the position if offered… what that job will require will-not be a ‘Good-Man of letters’ but rather a calloused-man with a sledge-hammer and hard-hat.

    • tonyc

      or woman – Michelle Rhee

  • AnybodyRecognizeMyContryLately

    Renaissance II

  • Dr_Albert_Gortenbull

    Abolish the Dept. of Education. A small office could handle transfer payments remaining after the Dept. is abolished. Albert

    • Marcy Almay

      Yep, and once we’re back to the “big three” of Legislative, Judicial and Executive authorities alone, all of the executive orders can be thrown out, thank God right? I can’t wait until Michigan Economic Development is out of work robbing taxpayers. I also can’t stand the charity arm of the IRS, (there’s no reason to have tax shelters disguised as foundations, churches, and charities). Mackinac Public Policy Center? DONE! 🙂 In fact, you guys could get rid of your ENTIRE ECONOMIC TEACHING department, all they do is talk policy, and without any admin law, they’re obsolete! I’m looking forward to just what you stated changing many things in this country.

  • Likely_Suspect

    Would be a great choice, and can you imagine everybody having to read & discuss the Constitution (mandatory at Hillsdale to pass a course).

  • chthompson

    Hopefully he could help shut down the department. I’m a bit concerned about the endorsement from the Weekly Standard hack. These neocon-globalists need to be exiled from the conservative movement. They aren’t conservative at all. If the Weekly Standard guy likes him, then I seriously wonder whether he would be such a good choice.

  • Karen Bracken

    Anyone or organization that supports Charters is not who we need as Secretary. Dr. Arnn and Hillsdale both support Charters. We do not need to reinvent the wheel we need to get back to the same classical education that educated some of the greatest minds in the world. Don’t need Charters and more experimental crap in our school system. Return to what worked in the past.