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Indiana Professors Against Purdue’s Kaplan Deal

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University’s plan to acquire the for-profit Kaplan University in an effort to boost online education has drawn opposition from college professors across Indiana.

The Journal and Courier reports the Indiana Conference of American Association of University Professors released a statement Tuesday saying it “objects strenuously” to the deal. The group said it’s concerned about working with a for-profit institution, that faculty input wasn’t sought beforehand and that an assessment wasn’t done on the deal’s impact on the academic quality at Purdue.

“We have to stand against this on principle,” said Miriam Pittenger, president of Indiana’s AAUP chapter and a professor of classical studies at Hanover College.

The new school created by the acquisition wouldn’t be a public institution. Instead, it would operate as a public benefit corporation that’s exempt from state open-door laws, access to public records laws and accounting for public funds codes.

Kaplan’s parent company, Graham Holdings, Company may earn up to 12.5 percent of the revenue generated by the new university.

“This is not what public higher education is about,” said David Nalbone, vice president of the local AAUP chapter and psychology professor at Purdue Northwest. “This is about making money and it does so by cheapening a Purdue degree.”

Past allegations against Kaplan have also raised concerns. Attorneys general in Illinois, Delaware and North Carolina have recently launched investigations into the institution. The company also paid a $1.3 million settlement in a 2015 case that alleged it hired unqualified instructors.

That same year it reached a settlement in another case that claimed it used harassing sales tactics and misleading representations about its programs and employment in its recruitment materials.

A Purdue spokesman said the university doesn’t have a response to the statements.

Purdue’s University Senate is holding a special session Thursday to discuss details of the deal with Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

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