Purdue University, under the leadership of former Republican Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, has acquired Kaplan’s fifteen campuses and learning centers, in addition to its 32,000 students and 3,000 employees and locks the public university into a thirty-year agreement. Per the Washington Post, Purdue President Daniels made the move to help position Purdue to be a leader in an evolving online higher education world:
“None of us knows how fast or in what direction online higher education will evolve, but we know its role will grow, and we intend that Purdue be positioned to be a leader as that happens,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels stated. “A careful analysis made it clear that we are very ill-equipped to build the necessary capabilities ourselves, and that the smart course would be to acquire them if we could.”
The agreement means that Purdue will create a new public university, integrating Kaplan’s students, employees and facilities into this new and yet-to-be-named online university. What did it cost Purdue? $1 up front, in exchange for Kaplan’s “operation support, including marketing, human resources and financial aid administration,” as the Washington Post reported. Purdue will reimburse the parent company of Kaplan, Graham Holdings, for costs and then will get a cut of the new university’s revenues. Graham Holdings is run by the former owners of the Washington Post, the Graham family.
Purdue will give discounted tuition to in-state Indiana residents and the new university will rely on tuition and fundraising to cover operating expenses, without relying on state funding. The university plans on remaining an online-only university and will avoid expanding beyond the fifteen acquired campuses.
The deal has not been approved by the Department of Education or the accreditation agency, the Higher Learning Commission, but it faces an easier road under the Trump administration than it did during the Obama years.