Heidi Weber was born in Denver, Colorado, to a father who was a deputy sheriff and a mother who was an artist. Her father was “funny and a good citizen, who treated people well and talked to everyone.” When he died in 2011, his funeral was “packed” with over 400 people attending. At a very young age, Weber suffered a physical illness that only had a 10% survival rate, but she became a survivor. At three years old, seeking a healthier climate for Weber, her parents relocated to South Dakota. She grew up in a small town and completed chores around the acreage that surrounded their house. She met her current husband “down the road” from her home in South Dakota.
Weber attended Baltic High School and received an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting at South Dakota State University. She loved music, painting, and “saving lives.” She worked directly with physicians in five different specialties, eventually moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to work in a neurology clinic. A nurse in the clinic asked Weber if she wanted to teach medical coding. After teaching, Weber found she loved it and applied to Globe University in 2008 for teaching hours.
Minnesota School of Business, Inc., did business as Globe University, which consisted of twenty campuses in five states. It offered over three dozen education programs, including Medical Assistant programs. The schools were owned and operated by Terry and Kathryn Myhre from Minnesota, who bought Globe University in 1972 and the Minnesota School of Business in 1988. With a corporate office in Woodbury, Minnesota, Globe University had an enrollment of more than 11,000 students.
Weber was hired by Globe University. Within a year, she was promoted from part-time to full-time, then to Department Chair. She was also named “Teacher of the Year” and in 2010 became Dean of the Medical Assistance program. Weber moved from South Dakota to Woodbury, Minnesota, and started re-writing the medical assistance curriculum due to the previous curriculum being in “shambles.” The program enrolled eighteen hundred students . It did not take long for Weber to realize that Globe University was an operation that put profits over the students’ welfare.
As Dean, Weber traveled to other campuses and handled teacher and student complaints. However, according to Weber, the school inflated information regarding job placement rates and starting salaries for graduates to attract more students. Globe also switched to a less rigorous accreditation agency, which resulted in their students having a harder time getting employment. Students were not told that felony convictions would prevent them from being hired. Students didn’t undergo criminal background checks until toward the end of their studies, after spending thousands of dollars on classes. Additionally, students were enrolled even though the school knew they could not provide required internships in a timely manner. The school’s credits were not easily transferable, and Weber noted the school wanted quantity (number of students) over quality.
Weber saw recruiters being brought to the Woodbury corporate headquarters, where they were “wined and dined” for four weeks to learn the “script” or sales manual Globe University used to recruit students. She said that Globe’s sales manual was a guidebook on “how to screw people over, and how to lie to people.” She said that it contained psychological tricks to induce students to enroll. Weber said it “made her sick” to see how recruiters were treated when the Globe University teachers were so badly underpaid. Globe University would admit “anyone that could fog a mirror,” and Weber stated she dealt with students that “could not read, do math, or in some cases, speak English.”
In January 2011, Weber’s father died. She was “devastated.” At his funeral, she realized that a “turning point” had occurred in her life. She was “going to have to be a whistleblower.” Weber realized that her father would have wanted her to do something about the corruption and illegality in her job. Becoming a whistleblower was dangerous, and she knew that Globe University “was either going to fix it or they were going to fire me.”
Weber downloaded information and saved it on flash drives, knowing it would be important when she blew the whistle. Later, she received a performance report at work. Because of her complaints about Globe, she was sure it would result in termination, but she got a positive review.
Weber went to her supervisor with her concerns and was advised to “not write anything down, and to be quiet.” She then went to the next in command, the Provost, who “threatened her and blocked the door, not allowing her to leave, and warning her that her job was in jeopardy.”
In April 2011, Weber met with the President of Globe University, who happened to be the owners’ son Jeff Myhre, and noted her concerns, including the fact that Globe was violating the law. Globe was misleading students in ways that were deceptive, deceitful, and illegal. Myhre told her, “We are going to fix it,” and a series of meetings were set.
Weber attended three meetings within three weeks with Globe employees, identified the issues she was concerned about, and noted that she believed Globe was engaged in illegal activity.
On April 26, 2011, three days after the third meeting, she was terminated and told that Globe was “going in a different direction.” Weber was presented with a non-disclosure agreement that she refused to sign and return.
Weber was told that no whistleblower case would ever be successful in Minnesota. She retained the services of Minneapolis-based Halunen & Associates. She filed a lawsuit alleging that Globe violated Minnesota’s whistleblower statute, Minn. Stat. S 181.932 (2012) by terminating her employment.
A jury trial was held in August 2013. The jury found that Weber “made a good faith report to Globe of a violation or suspected violation of a law, rule, or regulation and that her report played a part in the termination of her employment.”
Globe appealed the verdict, and on December 15, 2014, lost their appeal. Since 2015, Weber has been active in the whistleblower community and moved to Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters. As the first whistleblower against a “for-profit” College/University chain, her case started a cascade of court proceedings that ultimately closed Globe’s campuses. Globe was ordered to repay several thousand students.
Weber has spoken to Congress twice and appeared in publications and media shows. She has created a podcast, The Whistleblower Revolution Podcast, with Heidi Weber. Perhaps what is most telling is the nickname given to her by a Producer of the popular CBS television show, Whistleblower in which she appeared. The nickname is “No Stop Weber.”
Next week’s Whistleblower of the Week column will discuss former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s defense of the Myhre family and the for-profit college. In a 2020 Op-Ed in the Washington Times, he blamed the Obama administration for “relentless attacks” on Globe University as the cause of its demise.
Give credit where credit is due. You do not need the President of the United States to take down a Minnesota dynasty. You just need a whistleblower. In this particular case, it was Heidi “No Stop” Weber.