The majority of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville’s faculty senate is opposing a planned acquisition of the University of Phoenix.
In an undated open letter to University of Arkansas System leaders, faculty members from the institution’s main campus at Fayetteville expressed concern about the impact of acquiring the University of Phoenix on the “UA” brand and doubted the sustainability of the university’s business model.
The letter was first reported by the Arkansas Times.
“Though you acknowledge the ‘checkered past’ of the University of Phoenix, we feel you are too quick to dismiss those problems as being in the past,” the letter reads. “We feel the reputation of Phoenix’s history will linger for years to come, and our campus is at the most risk for association with it.”
The University of Phoenix was once the largest for-profit predominantly online institution in the United States, but its enrollment has dwindled in recent years amid greater regulatory scrutiny of for-profit universities and concerns surrounding predatory student recruitment tactics and poor graduation rates in the sector.
The University of Arkansas System proposed acquiring the University of Phoenix through the nonprofit Transformative Education Service Inc., using privately sourced funds. The exact terms of the potential deal have not been shared publicly, but the faculty senate’s letter suggests the university system is contemplating a $500 million investment.
“If the University of Arkansas System sees the need to make a $500 million investment in the future of higher education, let’s make that investment here in the only state in America where one can still find diamonds,” the letter concluded.