April 27, 2017

Purdue to acquire Kaplan University, increase access for millions

Mitch Daniels Purdue President Mitch Daniels on Thursday (April 27) discusses the creation of a new public university that will help fill the need for postsecondary education for working adults and others, and address the explosive growth in online education (Purdue University photo/John Underwood). Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University announced Thursday (April 27) the creation of a new public university that will further expand access to higher education. The initiative is meant to address two striking new realities: the need for postsecondary education for working adults and others unsuited to traditional campus study, and the explosive growth of online technologies as a means of delivering education to students of all types.

“Nearly 150 years ago, Purdue proudly accepted the land-grant mission to expand higher education beyond the wealthy and the elites of society,” President Mitch Daniels said. “We cannot honor our land-grant mission in the 21st century without reaching out to the 36 million working adults, 750,000 of them in our state, who started but did not complete a college degree, and to the 56 million Americans with no college credit at all.

“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. 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. We were able to find exactly what we were looking for. Today’s agreement moves us from a standing start to a leading position.”

To launch the new university, Purdue will acquire Kaplan University and its institutional operations and assets, including its 15 campuses and learning centers, 32,000 students, 3,000 employees, and decades of experience in distance education. All existing Kaplan University students and faculty will transition to the new university, which will use the Purdue name in some fashion not yet identified.

“Kaplan and Purdue share the critical mission of expanding access to education,” said Donald E. Graham, chairman of Graham Holdings Co. (NYSE: GHC), the parent company of Kaplan Inc. and Kaplan University. “Purdue takes its land-grant mission very seriously, and I’m deeply impressed by this great university’s commitment to meeting the needs of non-traditional students.”

The new university will be distinct from others in the Purdue system, relying only on tuition and fundraising to cover operating expenses. No state appropriations will be utilized. It will operate primarily online, but has 15 locations across the United States, including an existing facility in Indianapolis, with potential for growth throughout the state. Indiana resident students will receive a yet-to-be-determined tuition discount. 

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “I’ve always had great respect for Gov. Daniels, and I’m excited by this opportunity for a world-class university to expand its reach and help educate adult learners by acquiring a strong for-profit college. This is a first, and if successful, could help create a new model for what it means to be a land-grant institution.”

Purdue currently serves students on two levels: Through its flagship campus in West Lafayette and at two regional campuses. The new entity will become a third level in the Purdue system, and will operate almost exclusively online. Betty Vandenbosch, Kaplan University’s current president, will become chancellor of the new university. A subsidiary of Kaplan Inc. will provide various non-academic services through a long-term transition and operations support agreement covering areas such as technological support, human resources, facilities management and other administrative functions.

“Purdue and Kaplan share the ambition of enabling individuals of all backgrounds to benefit from a high-quality education,” said Andy Rosen, Kaplan’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Purdue’s tradition of excellence makes it an ideal party to build upon the progress and innovation that Kaplan University has achieved over the past two decades. We’re proud to pass the baton to this esteemed university."

The new university will formally begin operations upon approval from the U.S. Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission. Purdue plans to take immediate steps to commence those approval processes. Both Purdue and Kaplan universities are accredited by the HLC.

More information, including an FAQ, is available at www.PurdueNewU.org.


Purdue University, a top public research institution, offers higher education at its highest proven value. Committed to affordability, the university has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels. Committed to student success, Purdue is changing the student experience with greater focus on faculty-student interaction and creative use of technology. Committed to pursuing scientific discoveries and engineered solutions, Purdue has streamlined pathways for faculty and student innovators who have a vision for moving the world forward.

Kaplan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, and serves approximately 32,000 online and campus-based students. The University has 15 campuses and learning centers in Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland, Maine, Missouri and Wisconsin. The university strives to help adult students by providing practical, student-centered education that prepares them for careers in some of the fastest growing industries. KU has been a leading innovator in higher education for many years, including its pioneering role in delivering online degree programs, its long-time commitment to competency based education linking mastery of discipline specific and professional competencies, and through its Research Pipeline designed to improve student learning and persistence by testing experimental interventions against empirical evidence. KU’s Concord Law School offered the first fully online law degree. 

Kaplan, Inc. serves over 1 million students globally each year through its array of higher education, test preparation, professional education, English-language training, and university preparation, and offerings to individuals, institutions, and businesses. Across its nearly 80-year history, first as small test-prep pioneer and then an early online education leader and now a global education provider, Kaplan has been recognized for expanding educational access and using technology and learning science innovations to continually improve outcomes for its students and partners. Kaplan has operations in over 30 countries, employs more than 15,000 full- and part-time professionals, and maintains relationships and partnerships with more than 1,000 school districts, colleges, and universities, and over 2,600 corporations and businesses. Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC) and its largest division. For more information, please visit www.kaplan.com.

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