Some Faculty Critical of Purdue’s Online Plan

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.— Purdue University’s plans for a new online school are drawing criticism from some faculty members.

The proposed school, called NewU, would emerge from Purdue’s purchase of for-profit Kaplan University, which was announced five months ago, the Journal & Courier reported.

Some Purdue faculty members who question those plans say they’re worried about the reputation of Kaplan University and parent company, Kaplan Higher Education. Both entities face investigations and lawsuits in multiple states targeting their hiring and recruitment practices.

“We need to continue having some of those conversations, but there are just too many questions that remain unanswered and some of us are very skeptical because of the fact this is such an odd entity,” said Alberto Rodriguez, chairman of the University Senate.

NewU 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.
Frank Dooley, the university’s senior vice provost for teaching and learning, is leading the team that will oversee the academic and support functions for NewU. He said a review of faculty members’ complaints have fallen into three categories: They’re false, Kaplan’s policies have changed to fix past issues or the university will have control of practices that are of concern.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education unanimously voted in August to allow the university to acquire Kaplan and launch NewU. The school must win approval from the U.S. Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission.

Dooley said the commission plans a February hearing on the proposal.

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