Grantham University could soon fall under the U of A.

That $1 purchase the University of Arkansas System made in 2021 is turning into quite a liability.

The UA System’s board of trustees on Friday approved a system loan of up to $2.5 million to the University of Arkansas Grantham, an online, formerly for-profit university the system acquired in 2021 and merged with the system’s eVersity online program.

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Grantham Chancellor Lindsay Bridgeman told trustees that enrollment at the school was down 30%, or 1,224 students, from November 2022. She noted that Grantham gets no state funding and relies solely on tuition and fees for revenue. That problem led to the board’s approving a tuition increase for Grantham students.

The good news is that Bridgeman said enrollment has stabilized. “It’s not continuing to fall,” she said.

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Bridgeman outlined several cost-cutting measures, including a faculty and staff hiring freeze and an effort to shift to more part-time employees. She said the university aims to boost enrollment, especially through retention and encouraging former students to return and complete their degrees.

When joining the UA System, Grantham absorbed eVersity’s $5 million debt to the system. Grantham has since paid back roughly $450,000 of that loan, said system spokesman Nate Hinkel.

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UA System President Donald Bobbitt has been a huge proponent of investment in online education, including his recent unsuccessful push for a related entity to buy the giant for-profit University of Phoenix, the subject of none-too-little controversy and even part of a Saturday Night Live skit recently. The UA System’s board rejected the Phoenix idea by a close vote in April.

 

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