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Faculty Statement Opposing the Online University Deal Between Purdue University and Kaplan

The deal between Purdue University and Kaplan:

  1. establishes a public-benefit corporation (“New University”) operated by and for the profit of a private entity (“Kaplan”);
  2. provides for 12.5% of the “New University” revenue to go to Kaplan after operating costs and a priority payment are met; in addition, an “efficiency payment” of 20% of any cuts in operating cost incentivizes the “New University” to place efficiency above principles of academic integrity, student service, shared governance, and freedom of learning and inquiry;
  3. channels public financial means to a private, for-profit entity with no public oversight, draining resources from public colleges and universities devoted to academic excellence and the public good, not the bottom line;
  4. establishes conditions of at-will employment for 3,000 “New University” faculty and staff members, with no common geographic location for face-to-face meetings, and no provision for shared governance, tenure, or oversight from a deliberative body of faculty who are professionally qualified in the relevant area of expertise (“New University will have its own institutional accreditation and maintain its own faculty and administrative operations”);
  5. ignores that Kaplan-owned entities have been decried for paying workers some of the lowest wages in the for-profit education industry; that attorneys general in Illinois, Delaware, and North Carolina have launched investigations into Kaplan University; that Kaplan has settled litigation in Massachusetts over allegations it misled students about job placement rates and in Texas over allegations that it employed unqualified instructors.

In addition:

  1. the deal violates the long-cherished core principles of shared governance and academic freedom that the AAUP has stood for since 1915;
  2. the deal outsources and privatizes public resources, weakening the ability of our public campuses to provide the quality education for which they are internationally recognized and jeopardizing their ability to continue to fulfill their public missions of providing Hoosiers with the best education possible;
  3. as a public-benefit corporation operated for the profit of Kaplan, the new entity would undermine essential protections for the freedom of learning and inquiry on which higher education in the US has been premised for the last hundred years, as well as stripping Hoosiers from all walks of life of access to a higher education guaranteed by norms of professional review by peers;
  4. it asks Hoosier taxpayers to devote tax revenues (through Indiana scholarships such 21st Century Scholars Program) to the enrichment of a private corporation, a concept directly at odds with the mission of a public university, which is to advance the public good (via the education of citizens), not to turn a profit for a small band of private shareholders;
  5. prioritizes profit over academic program quality, which will damage Purdue University’s hard-earned reputation for academic excellence.

We faculty at Indiana public universities hereby oppose the purchase by Purdue of Kaplan University.