University of Phoenix Head on Education as Business
TONY COX: Credibility is a big issue for for-profit schools, even giants like the University of Phoenix whose 300,000 plus students - nearly one-fourth of whom are black - make it the largest private university in the nation.
Bill Pepicello is the president of UOP, and he tells NEWS & NOTES his school's credibility is delicately balanced between pleasing shareholders and educating students.
Dr. BILL PEPICELLO (President, University of Phoenix): Every academic decision that we make is also a business decision. And by the same token, every business decision is also an academic decision. Because as a business, if we do not make business decisions that support continued academic quality, we simply would not be able to sustain ourselves by students continuing to come to us.
COX: What are the criticisms that we have heard with regard to for-profit institutions is that your books are not open to the public in a way where people can examine the dollars coming and going, where they can examine the curriculum, where they can examine your student enrollments. Is that true?
Dr. PEPICELLO: In general, that's probably not totally accurate. There are certainly some facts and figures that we cannot release in our case because we are part of a publicly-traded entity, and that particular information is proprietary in that it could affect our standing on the stock market. And if we look at how money is spent, for instance, we would point to the curriculum, which people can come and look at.
COX: When you hear things like, quote, "Students are learning too little, paying too much," or quote, "The MBA's from these universities are MBA lite, L-I-T-E." How do you respond to those kinds of comments?
Dr. PEPICELLO: I look to our students as our measure of success. For instance, the current secretary of transportation of the United States is a University of Phoenix graduate. While it hurts me to hear criticism, I know that we are serving our students in a way that they could not be served otherwise.
COX: Mr. Pepicello, thank you very much for coming on.
Dr. PEPICELLO: It's been my pleasure, thank you.
FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
Bill Pepicello is president of the University of Phoenix. He spoke with NPR's Tony Cox.
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CHIDEYA: Just ahead, Sharpton versus Obama, and the story of Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn and the lady in charge of its male basketball champs.
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