The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


March 17, 2010

Dana College sold; will become for-profit

Dana College in Blair, Neb., will be sold to Dana Education Corporation, a new for-profit company, to resolve long-term financial difficulties, the Dana College Board of Regents announced March 16.

Dennis Gethmann, board of regents president, said the board had "investigated a number of viable options, and selected DEC based on the plan presented to ensure continuity, and its desire to keep the mission, heritage and character of the college intact." According to school leaders, Dana's "mission, accreditation, programs, faculty, campus and facilities will be unchanged." According to insidehighered.com, the school's tenure system will also remain in place.

The Nebraska-based Dana Education Corporation was established by "senior higher education administrators who bring to Dana a deep understanding of higher education from an academic and regulatory perspective. ... Upon the effective date of the new partnership, members of Dana's board of trustees will include leaders from higher education, government, and the private sector including a former state governor, past president of a Lutheran university, administrators from Ivy League universities and local community leaders," said a March 16 Dana news release.

Financial struggles were evident in ways that included faculty salaries, which had been frozen for two years, reported insidehighered.com. "Dana will now have new financial resources needed to thrive and highly experienced higher education administrators to complement the current staff," said Dana College President Janet Philipp. "We believe DEC will help Dana maintain and strengthen the college's mission and continue to serve well the diverse populations that have been the hallmark of Dana College's institutional culture."

The Dana College corporation-which will continue governing the College until the end of the 2009-2010 academic year-will become the Dana Education Foundation, with continuing responsibilities for the Danish American Archives, campus ministry, Alumni Affairs and the Alumni Council, as well as support for community events.

The new owners have a short-term goal of restoring Dana's student population to some 1,000 students-effectively doubling the current student body. A longer-term goal is of increasing study abroad opportunities.

Accreditation and regulatory approvals for the sale are expected to be final this summer. With the completion of the sale, Raj Kaji, DEC president and a former vice- president at Walden University, will become president of Dana, and Janet Philipp will take the position of as senior vice president of student engagement. The new provost and chief academic officer will be C. Ronald Kimberling, former president of Argosy University's Chicago campus and staff at U.S. Education Department during the Reagan administration.

"We are excited to work with the faculty, staff and students of Dana College, and look forward to helping Dana realize its full potential," Kaji said. "It is our dream that in five years, one-third of the student body will exercise its opportunity to study abroad."

A year ago, another ELCA-affiliated school, Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa, was sold to a for-profit online university that sees the school.


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