The University of Arkansas System’s Board of Trustees narrowly voted against endorsing plans to acquire the University of Phoenix in a Zoom meeting Monday.
Trustees voted 5-4 against the deal, with one trustee abstaining. The vote is non-binding and University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt can still proceed with plans to acquire the University of Phoenix, The Washington Post reported.
If it proceeds, the deal would see the University of Arkansas System acquire Phoenix through a nonprofit entity called Transformative Education Services, Inc. using privately sourced funds.
Bobbitt previously told The Washington Post that the deal could bring in $20 million in revenue annually through a licensing deal that would allow the University of Phoenix to use the system name in its branding.
The University of Phoenix was formerly the largest for-profit predominantly online institution in the U.S., but enrollment has dwindled in recent years amid increased regulatory scrutiny of for-profit providers and growing competition in the online degree market.
The faculty senate of the institution’s flagship campus at Fayetteville wrote an open letter in March opposing plans to acquire Phoenix, citing concerns about the institution’s poor reputation and asking the system to instead invest $500 million “here in the only state in America where one can still find diamonds.”