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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Most UI employees approve of Phoenix buy, survey says

By Anthony Kuipers Moscow-Pullman Daily News

According to a survey of 723 University of Idaho employees, slightly more than half of respondents supported the school’s affiliation with the University of Phoenix.

The UI Faculty Senate released the results of last fall’s survey that sought to understand what faculty and staff thought about the university’s bid to purchase the online school. Out of the employees who responded, 367 identified as staff members, 244 as faculty and 122 chose not to indicate their status.

While 52% of employees supported the University of Phoenix acquisition, more than a third of respondents felt the UI did not adequately engage employees in the decision-making process. Thirty-five percent indicated they were neutral about this.

Employees were allowed to elaborate on how they felt about the decision-making process. Those who disagreed with how the UI engaged with its employees stated they were not aware of the University of Phoenix deal until after the purchase agreement was already done. Some respondents stated they felt deceived in some way.

Those who agreed with the way the UI shared information said a business deal with a private organization does not need to be publicly debated.

The majority of respondents either agreed that the University of Phoenix affiliation would affect their departments or were unsure it would. Fifty-four percent of faculty felt their department will be affected.

Respondents hoped the affiliation will increase the university’s revenue and lead to better online course tools. However, respondents did express concern that the University of Phoenix’s bad reputation will hurt UI’s image. Others expressed concern the online school will draw the attention of UI’s administrators away from the needs of UI’s colleges and departments.

A little more than half of employees agreed that the affiliation with Phoenix will help protect UI from the coming enrollment dropoff that the university foresees.

Overall, 53% agree that the affiliation will have a positive effect on UI.

The draft survey results can be found in Tuesday’s UI Faculty Senate meeting agenda.

The UI Faculty Senate is still deciding what to do with the results of its survey.

Kristin Haltinner, faculty senate vice chairperson, said during Tuesday’s senate meeting that her instinct is to work with UI Provost Torrey Lawrence to mitigate employee concerns and answer questions.

Last week, Ada County District Court Judge Jason Scott dismissed Attorney General Raul Labrador’s lawsuit arguing the Idaho State Board of Education violated the Open Meetings Law when it approved the University of Phoenix acquisition.