Features

Victoria Mangiapane – University of Phoenix

Deputy GC helps University of Phoenix do education right

Over the course of her career, Vicki Mangiapane has worked with farmworkers to secure good working conditions and access to reliable medical care. She’s served in Kenya for two years with the United Nations and spent a decade with the Arizona attorney general’s office.

Now, as vice president and deputy general counsel at University of Phoenix, she’s devoting her energy to one of her most enduring passions: higher education.

Victoria Mangiapane | Vice President and Deputy General Counsel | University of Phoenix

Victoria Mangiapane | Vice President and Deputy General Counsel | University of Phoenix

“Education’s always been a thread through my legal career,” Mangiapane says. “Some of the projects that I worked on for legal aid involved education. And then moving into government, I spent some time representing charter school boards, and different state and county boards and commissions that touched on education. Coming to University of Phoenix was just an outgrowth of, ‘What is the underlying subject matter that you can be passionate about?’”

Mangiapane is especially happy to be working for a university that serves adult learners. For her, there’s something particularly rewarding about helping working adult students who are trying to better themselves—often against long odds.

“A lot of schools are focusing on the adult student now because it’s trendy,” Mangiapane says. “But back in the ‘70s, University of Phoenix was already innovating in the adult education space.”

Add it to the list

During her 12 years at the university, Mangiapane’s responsibilities have evolved, now encompassing everything from state licensing to handling accreditation matters and legislative engagement. More broadly, she’s helped position the legal department as a key part of the decision-making process—one in which transparency is paramount.

“People don’t always like to hear what legal has to say, but they know we’re valuable, and they encourage us to be there,” Mangiapane says. “Representatives of the legal department are always involved in the day-to-day work.”

Mangiapane—who describes herself as an administrative, regulatory lawyer—enjoys the unpredictability of her current role. Like most busy in-house attorneys, she always starts the day with a to-do list, and by 9:30 a.m., it often looks completely different. For example, one recent day was full of standing meetings and time to review accreditation reports; that went out the window when the academic and operations teams needed Mangiapane’s help dealing with a routine on-site spot audit.

Mangiapane is currently involved with the university’s competency-based education curriculum, a series of online programs that provide students flexibility in the pace at which they earn their degrees. The university had never tried that model before, so she was part of a multi-disciplinary working group that developed the programs and lined up regulatory approvals.

That required Mangiapane to think like a businessperson and a lawyer simultaneously, balancing the need to get the programs to market quickly with what she knew about the legal side: They had to get everything right on the first try—marketing materials, program information, student disclosures—so as not to waste anybody’s time.

“It was positioning things to make sure they’re really well done, and then working with the full team to help get those applications together,” she says. “Knowing where you can give and where you can’t is the art and the science of it. We did get those approvals pretty quickly, and we launched on time, and I think we’re becoming a strong competitor in that space now.”

Helping roll out digital badging

Mangiapane has also been working on the university’s digital badging initiative. Developed in partnership with Credly, a third-party digital-badge provider, the program allows students to demonstrate a certain level of competency (say, in leadership or nursing-emergency preparedness) and earn a badge, which they can share on their resumes or LinkedIn pages. Credly looks at the university’s curriculum and the skills it imparts, then provides that external badge.

Together with members of the legal team and project leaders, Mangiapane worked to ensure that the university’s presentation of information about its skills-aligned curriculum was substantiated. The legal team and subject matter experts also ensured that the project met regulatory standards.

Victoria Mangiapane | Vice President and Deputy General Counsel | University of Phoenix

“I think legal being at the table really helped,” Mangiapane says. “The university is focused on what’s relevant now in the work environment. And we know that the world of work is changing dramatically. That’s why we talk about a demonstrative, skills-based curriculum.”

More broadly, Mangiapane also must ensure compliance with the litany of rules attached to the university’s federal funding. It all adds up to a complex legal calculus every time the university wants to launch a new initiative or provide new methods of learning. But Mangiapane’s early involvement helps keep new projects on the right side of regulations.

“Being an in-house attorney really affords you the opportunity to be a trusted advisor who partners with the leaders of the business,” she says. “That partnership can foster insight and guidance to help the business reach its goals in the most efficient and compliant manner. And in a highly regulated industry like higher education, that can be a competitive advantage.”

Doing education right

The daughter of a bank teller and a computer parts manager, Mangiapane was the first person from her family to graduate from college.

Raised in California and Arizona, she attended Arizona State University for her bachelor’s degree and ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law for her J.D. After law school, she became a public-interest lawyer, which is what she’d always wanted to do.

After a stint with Community Legal Services, where she oversaw public benefits and Social Security disability cases, Mangiapane joined the Arizona attorney general’s office as an assistant attorney general. She went on to serve as general counsel for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

While she acknowledges that higher education is a hot-button political issue, Mangiapane works with regulators, Department of Education officials and state attorneys general to ensure the university remains in good standing—and continues to do good for its students. She’s encountered some doubters, but works to demonstrate that she—and University of Phoenix—are acting in good faith.

“At the end of the day, you may never completely change minds,” she says. “But they’re going to know that, ‘Well, I may not like this or that, but I know that University of Phoenix is doing it right.’”

Published on: January 5, 2023

regions:

categories: ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.

Testimonials

I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.

LATEST EDITION

Winter II 2023

READ NOW

GET VANGUARD IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.