The University of Arizona recently announced approval by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission of Ashford University’s application for a change of ownership.
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At the completion of the transaction, Ashford will become the UA Global Campus. The transaction is expected to be finalized in early December.
“We are grateful for the trust and confidence the WASC Commission and their staff are placing in Global Campus by issuing approval of the change in control from Ashford University to Global Campus," said UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins in a statement.
Ashford University and the UA Global Campus will continue to serve Ashford’s approximately 35,000 students with more than 50 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Global campus will remain an independent institution accredited by WSCUC and governed by its own independent board of directors.
Paul Pastorek is leading the transition efforts for the UA Global Campus as interim president. Pastorek’s main goal is to prove the Global Campus can serve the students and their online education needs.
“Paul Pastorek is well-regarded and well-known in education circles and is the right leader at the helm for the launch of Global Campus,” Robbins said.
The Global Campus also named nine members of the inaugural board of directors who are leaders in higher education, industry, military and legal and public policy. These members include, Lehman Benson III, Gail Burd, Marc L. Miller, Gary Packard, Kerri Briggs, Nivine Megahed, Sean O’ Keefe, Ty Smith and Omar Vasquez. Of these appointees, Benson III, Burd, Miller and Packard were appointed by the UA. The remaining individuals were independently appointed.
There have been a lot of concerns about the UA Global Campus since the announcement of the acquisition. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voiced their concerns in a letter to Robbins that the university must take steps to ensure students are not taken advantage of.
“Without clear protections for students built into this transaction by UA, its accreditors and the Department of Education, Arizona taxpayers risk becoming owners of a predatory for-profit college cloaked in the aura of your prestigious university,” the Senators said in the letter.
Ashford’s owner, Zovio, is still facing a San Diego supreme court case set for April 2021. A suit was brought against the company by the state of California in 2017 for allegedly using its admissions office to make false promises regarding prospective students’ financial aid to get them to enroll.
According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, illegal debt collection practices were then used to get the struggling students to pay their bills.
“Ashford, now owned by Zovio, has been a major player during a period of the last two decades that a group of state attorneys general referred to as “open season” on students because of systemic defrauding of students and fleecing of taxpayers across the for-profit college industry,” the senators added in the letter.
Robbins has stated that he aims to deliver a high-quality and ethical education to the students.
“I’m confident that we will do that or I wouldn’t have agreed to this deal,” Robbins said.
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