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Healthiest State Initiative

In this file photo from 2014, Kaplan University students leave the Mason City campus to participate in the Healthiest State Walk.

MASON CITY | Purdue University is acquiring for-profit Kaplan University, which has a campus in Mason City, to boost its online education capability.  

The acquisition will result in the creation of a new public university, according to a statement released by Purdue Thursday.

All Kaplan campuses will transfer to Purdue once the transaction closes, which is expected to take six to seven months, according to Stephen White, vice president of communications for Kaplan Higher and Professional Education.

"We believe this is great news for Kaplan University, its campuses and most importantly KU students as it will expand access to higher education for more and more adult learners, including those who have some college experience but no college credential," he told the Globe Gazette.

Mason City students study online and get one-on-one personal support from the campus staff with tutoring, as well as educational advising and career services, according to White.

The Mason City campus supports 200 students across North Iowa and southern Minnesota, he said.

Purdue officials say the Kaplan acquisition is meant to address the need for post-secondary education for working adults and others unsuited to traditional campus study and the growth of online technologies as a means of delivering education to students of all types.

The transaction will not require an upfront purchase price, according to Purdue officials. They say the new university will enter into a long-term transition and support agreement, with a buy-out option after year six. 

The agreement also will provide certain financial guarantees by Kaplan for the new university to ensure it is able to continue to meet its mission to serve adult learners. 

Kaplan University has 15 campuses and learning centers in Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland, Maine, Missouri and Wisconsin. It has 32,000 students and 3,000 employees.

All existing Kaplan University students and faculty will transition to the new university, which will use the Purdue name in some fashion not yet identified.

The new university will be distinct from others in the Purdue system, relying only on tuition and fundraising to cover operating expenses. No state appropriations will be used.

Purdue currently serves students on two levels -- its flagship campus in West Lafayette and at two regional campuses.

The new entity will become a third level in the Purdue system, and will operate almost exclusively online.

Betty Vandenbosch, Kaplan University’s current president, will become chancellor of the new university.

A subsidiary of Kaplan Inc. will provide various non-academic services through a long-term transition and operations support agreement covering areas such as technological support, human resources, facilities management and other administrative functions.

Both Purdue and Kaplan universities are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

The Kaplan campus in Mason City was formerly Hamilton Business College, which was founded in 1900. Kaplan and Hamilton merged in 2007. 

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