Corinthian Colleges Inc., which specializes in schools for healthcare professionals, on Tuesday named Robert Owen to the new position of chief accounting officer.
Owen, 43, who also will be senior vice president, joined Corinthian as vice president and controller in 2004, the Santa Ana-based company said. He was interim chief financial officer after Dennis Beal retired last year. Kenneth Ord became CFO on Thursday.
The appointment may be an attempt to address investor perception that the for-profit education industry is lax on its accounting and financial controls, said Trace Urdan, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. The industry has been the subject of probes by federal and state officials amid allegations of inflated enrollments and shareholder lawsuits.
"There's a perception that controls need to be tighter, and this is their own effort to address that concern," Urdan said.
Shares of Corinthian fell 2 cents to $17.92 in Nasdaq trading. The stock has fallen 43% in the last year. Corinthian operates 138 colleges in 24 states and Canada.
Owen previously served as vice president and controller for Carnival Corp.'s Princess Cruise Lines and assistant controller for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. He also worked at accounting firm Deloitte & Touche for 11 years.
Corinthian spokeswoman Anna Marie Dunlap wouldn't disclose his compensation.
Corinthian said in a regulatory filing last week that it had been exchanging letters with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the company's accounting.
Last month, the company said the SEC had ended its informal inquiry without recommending action, after reviewing projections, financial statements and communications with analysts and investors.
The investigation also included a review of the company's Bryman College in San Jose by the U.S. Department of Education. The review found that Bryman wasn't complying with financial aid rules and wasn't eligible for advance tuition payments. The payments resumed in September, Corinthian said.
The Bryman incident is an example of the perception that for-profit education companies have challenges controlling their accounting because they have so many campuses and programs, Urdan said.
"That's the kind of thing you'd like to catch before the regulators do," Urdan said.