Has the University of Phoenix moved on in the quest to find a buyer, leaving Arkansas behind?
CBS2 in Boise, Idaho, reported this afternoon that the Idaho State Board of Education will hold a special meeting Thursday to consider a proposal from the University of Idaho to create a not-for-profit entity to acquire the University of Phoenix. The TV station’s report cites a news release.
The meeting will be in Boise at 1 p.m. (2 p.m. in Arkansas) and will be live-streamed on the board’s YouTube channel, the station reported.
The proposal sounds remarkably similar to University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt‘s plan, which failed to win support from the system’s board of trustees late last month after more than a year of negotiations largely shrouded in secrecy.
Asked to comment on the Idaho development, UA System spokesman Nate Hinkle said, “We wish all parties involved much success as they move forward.”
“We have a thorough understanding of the value and importance of the University of Phoenix’s mission of providing high-quality learning opportunities for working adults and other nontraditional students,” Hinkle said in an emailed statement. “Based on the amount of due diligence we have done on this project, we are not surprised that another university also saw the value in pursuing an affiliation with University of Phoenix. We wish all parties involved much success as they move forward.”
The University of Idaho proposal calls for the creation of a not-for-profit entity to acquire the University of Phoenix, one of the nation’s largest online and for-profit colleges. After regulatory and accreditation approvals are acquired, the University of Phoenix would move from a for-profit institution to a public not-for-profit institution under the proposal.
The Idaho board’s agenda item says the board will also consider authorization for the execution of an “Asset Purchase Agreement.”
In Arkansas, the nonprofit Transformative Education Services Inc. had also been established for this task. But the formation here came in August 2022, long before the public even learned about the efforts to buy Phoenix. That didn’t happen until January of this year after the Arkansas Times learned of the proposal and reported on it.
Phoenix spokeswoman Andrea Smiley has not replied to the Times’ recent requests for comment, including one earlier today asking again about the Arkansas plan’s status.
While it appeared Bobbitt could have legally pursued the affiliation without the UA System board’s approval, Hinkle said in an email Tuesday that “Dr. Bobbitt has said it is difficult to move forward on the project without the support of the Board. That remains the case and I don’t have anything to add at this time.”
The CBS2 story did not say how imminent an Idaho acquisition might be.
Bobbitt had been in talks with Phoenix since at least March 2021.