For-profit schools Ashford, University of the Rockies intend to merge into nonprofit university – The Denver Post

Ashford University and University of the Rockies, two for-profit higher education institutions with their names on downtown Denver buildings, on Tuesday announced their intent to merge and become one nonprofit university.

The plan still needs to be approved by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, the U.S. Department of Higher Education, the Internal Revenue Service and state regulatory bodies, according to a joint news release from the schools.

If all goes as intended, the merger and status change should be completed by the end of the year, the universities said. The combined organization will be known as Ashford University.

For-profit education has been under scrutiny with big-name schools such as Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute folding under scandals and schemes, said Bob Shireman, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation working on education policy.

Despite repeated requests for an explanation of what moving to a nonprofit system would do for Ashford and University of the Rockies, spokesman Nolan Sundrud was unable to name anything specific or reach anyone at either organization who could offer a substantive answer.

“We believe returning to nonprofit status will allow us to better serve students and to be judged and measured as colleges and universities should be: on our ability to foster student learning,” Ashford president and CEO Craig Swenson said.

Students at the University of the Rockies — which plans to stay at its Denver campus location — will have the chance to complete the program they’re currently enrolled in or choose a new degree program under the merged university.