LITTLE ROCK (Monday, Aug. 9, 2021) — The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas will hold a special meeting Aug. 11 to consider acquiring Grantham University (Lenexa, KS) to expand the UA System’s online educational offerings and its operational scale.
The 9 a.m. public meeting will be part of the Board’s annual two-day retreat held at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute atop Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton. Click here for an agenda of other items for consideration, supporting materials and registration to view the Zoom broadcast of the meeting.
With approval of the acquisition, the number of unique credentials offered by the UA System’s fully online institutions would increase from 24 at the University of Arkansas System eVersity to more than 60, and the UA System would gain approximately 4,000 Grantham students.
“This potential acquisition represents a game-changer for our efforts to reach those adults who are underserved by public higher education because of their need to attend fully-online, flexible institutions,” said Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the UA System. “We launched eVersity to serve those Arkansans who have completed some college but not earned their degree. Their success in earning a credential is imperative to their future and to the future of our state and region. By acquiring the assets of Grantham University, we will be able to scale up this effort to reach beyond the borders of Arkansas and diversify the educational offerings and revenue profile of our system.”
Grantham University was founded in 1951 and began offering exclusively online programs in the late 1990s. It has developed a strong reputation with students who are in the military and others for its quality, affordable and flexible degree programs focused in workforce subjects such as business, health professions and information technology.
Grantham and eVersity are both accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accreditor. Grantham has also earned accreditation from the Accrediting Board of Engineering and Technology, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
After exploring many options, the board of The Level Playing Field Corp. (LPF), which owns Grantham University, determined it is in the best interest of the university and its constituents to enter into an Asset Purchase Agreement to transfer substantially all the assets and certain discrete liabilities of Grantham University to the UA Board of Trustees in exchange for $1.
If approved by the UA Board, the transaction would then be subject to approval by the LPF Board and the Board of Directors of Grantham University, Inc. The transaction constitutes a substantive change of Grantham University that must be reviewed by DEAC.
Included in the transaction, the UA Board would initially lease and eventually employ approximately 170 full-time staff, faculty and administrative employees, along with approximately 240 part-time faculty. After receipt of the noted approvals, Grantham would join the UA System as a unique new campus, with the overall goal of eventually combining efforts with eVersity to form a single, fully online university.
“At eVersity we have developed award-winning online courses and programs and found success serving students in Arkansas who stopped out of their education before completion,” said Dr. Michael Moore, UA System vice president for academic affairs. “Our main challenge has been growing our reach with limited resources for marketing our programs in and outside of Arkansas. This acquisition enhances our system’s ability to reach the increasingly important adult student population and adds a portfolio of high-quality, affordable degree programs to those we already offer at eVersity.”
The proposed acquisition comes at a time of much disruption in the higher education landscape as some public universities have made strategic moves to grow their online resources in an effort to serve an increasingly diverse student population.
“We believe we have an opportunity to carve out a share of the high-quality online education market in our region,” Moore said. “This will allow us to serve our educational mission and diversify the revenue of our system during a time when public funding for higher education across the country is not increasing.”