Access for Millions

Purdue to Acquire Kaplan University

Mitch Daniels, Perdue UniversityWest Lafayette, IN (USA), May 2017 - Purdue University has announced 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 for 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 this 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 fifteen 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 fifteen 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.