WEST LAFAYETTE — Before taking questions about a controversial deal to acquire Kaplan University, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels kicked off a meeting with faculty Thursday by addressing falsehoods he said have been floating around.
A PowerPoint slide displayed behind him highlighted four "reported inaccuracies," including one that various attorneys general have ongoing investigations into Kaplan University and it has settled lawsuits with others.
"False," Daniels said after reading it off. "This is a natural confusion, however. Kaplan is a four-unit organization. They have a professional group, they have a test preparation company. Kaplan University is only one of four. Any of those investigations you read about were not at Kaplan University. In fact, they have not been sued in 10 years — a statement I wish we could make here at Purdue — by any student."
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But when it came time for faculty to ask Daniels direct questions, political science professor Laurel Weldon said she had read differently in a recent column published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Robert Shireman, senior fellow for think-tank Century Foundation and former U.S. deputy undersecretary of education, in the article noted a U.S. Senate committee investigation revealed that Kaplan University in 2009 allocated more money to marketing and profit than to teaching students. Kaplan had among the worst withdrawal rates and loan-default rates of the 30 companies investigated by the committee, he wrote.
"This story looks like it’s about Kaplan University, not the other units you were talking about," Weldon said.
Before she had finished her sentence, Daniels was ready with a counter-claim.