Purdue University has recently acquired Kaplan University to create Purdue University Global, one of the pioneers in online learning. Read on to understand why.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to you as well as to Kaplan.
Gregory Marino: I just celebrated my 26th year with Kaplan. My resume reads newspaper boy and then Kaplan. I’ve been in education my entire professional career. Over those 26 years, I’ve been pretty much involved in each one of our major divisions.
I’ve been typically involved with startup ideas or really big ideas that we had a difficult time scaling such as the test prep division. I’ve assisted in many of the online digital efforts throughout the organization.
In 2001, I moved from New York to South Florida to build out this concept of creating an online institution. Kaplan had already owned different colleges throughout the country and throughout the world but really wanted to create an institution online that was focused on adult learners.
I helped write the business model as well as the student support model to help create access for adult learners. I’ve been doing that since 2001.
Last year, we took that institution that went from a few dozen students to well over 30,000. Then we sold it to the Purdue University system.
Sramana Mitra: I learned about that from Keith Krach, who was on the Board of Trustees of Purdue.
Gregory Marino: It’s disruptive within the higher education space. A well-known, for-profit institution converted to a non-profit institution owned by a public entity. It was rebranded as Purdue University Global.
It was the fourth institution within the Purdue system and the largest online-focused institution within the system. That was a pivot for Kaplan Higher Education, the division that I run.
We started our transformation to partnering with other large systems to help them with their online aspirations. We are now a managed service provider assisting schools desiring to make online a more meaningful component and help them reach those goals.
Sramana Mitra: Can you take a case study of a school that you are assisting in this mode? What does that transition look like?
Gregory Marino: Right now, priority number one, two, and three is Purdue. That’s the case study to refer to right now. This is a trend that you’re seeing in higher education. In essence, they acquired an institution and entered into a long-term service contract with Kaplan.
Since it is a separately accredited institution within the Purdue system and the focus is on a particular segment, it gives the institution the flexibility to ensure that it has the right programs and policies to deliver a personalized offering to this particular segment.
Kaplan, through its long-term partnership, is providing all the back-office functions – marketing, admissions, data & analytics, student support, and technology. As a result of the transaction and the success that we’re seeing at Purdue, there are other institutions that are very much interested in Kaplan helping to develop a solution very similar to what we’ve done at Purdue.
We believe in long-term partnerships. We’re a little bit slower on those conversations because we want to ensure that we get the Purdue opportunity right.