Purdue’s President Mitch Daniels Explains Acquisition of Kaplan University!

Dear Commons Community,

A little more than a week ago, Purdue Univeristy rocked higher education with its announcement that it was acquiring the for-profit Kaplan University.  In a letter (see below) to the Purdue community, President Mitch Daniels explains the rationale for this decision.



Welcome to the World’s Next Public University

In 1862 Abraham Lincoln signed legislation that would enable states to create a new kind of university. These so-called land-grant colleges would, for the first time in history, expand higher education beyond the wealthy and the elites of society. In 1869, Indiana proudly founded its first and only land-grant, Purdue University.

Today, we are no longer a single campus. Purdue now extends from regional campuses in northern Indiana to a flagship university that is among the most prestigious research universities in the world. Each of our campuses has distinct purposes and serves a range of students, but we are all united by our belief that high-quality, higher education should be accessible for all.

That’s even more essential in 2017 than it was in 1862. Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 36 million Americans over the age of 25 started college but were unable to finish. Another 56 million have had no post-secondary education whatsoever.

Our modern, complex economy is stacked against these men and women. If they are to advance professionally, they must largely balance the demands of school with the obligations of careers, family, and other burdens of adult life. Increasingly, these Americans are finding hope in high-quality, online programs tailored to their unique needs.

Purdue cannot honor our land-grant mission in the 21st century without reaching out to these men and women who have often been overlooked by traditional universities. Over the past few years Purdue has studiously examined how we could better offer access to such potential students. The conclusion we reached was that even if we invested years and millions of dollars into advancing our digital offerings, there would be no guarantee of success.

And then in late 2016 we had another idea: Acquire an institution with a strong reputation, an advanced online infrastructure and a shared commitment to the land-grant mission – and then make it our own by extending its reach and leading it towards even greater excellence.

We will operate this new university with the same care and commitment to student success as we do the other campuses in the Purdue system. We will shape it with the best of Purdue’s academic excellence and the flexibility and online infrastructure that has been associated with Kaplan. As we do, we will carry the land-grant vision into the 21st century.


David Reingold

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.



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