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Arkansas trustees appear divided on buying U of Phoenix

University of Arkansas system trustees appear divided on a plan to purchase the University of Phoenix, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

The trustees discussed the plan at a meeting Wednesday. One trustee asked for a delay in the scheduled vote on the deal on Monday.

“This is the first deal I’ve received a lot of important information, [and] on a deal this big, I need time to digest it,” said trustee Steve Cox. “Let us consider this, [because] I hate to be rushed.”

Trustee Ted Dickey spoke in favor of the deal.

“If we’re not willing to disrupt our own business, someone else” will, Dickey said. An affiliation with Phoenix would help the Arkansas system appeal to a new audience and create cash flow.

“This is a sustainable model,” Dickey said. “Raising tuition every year is a broken, non-sustainable model.”

Trustee Kelly Eichler agreed. An affiliation with Phoenix “seems like a lifeline to us,” she said.

That lackluster “reputation” Phoenix has to some is “hard to shake,” however, said trustee Sheffield Nelson. “I think the best thing to do is stay clear of it.”

It’s “hard for me to understand why this is an outstanding deal for” the system, as it feels as though “we’re losing focus on the state of Arkansas,” said board chairman Morril Harriman.

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