This audio is auto-generated. Please let us know if you have feedback.

Dive Brief: 

  • Paul Pastorek, leader of the University of Arizona Global Campus, stepped down from his position last week. 
  • Pastorek became UAGC’s president and CEO in February 2021, only a few months after the online college changed hands through a complicated acquisition that affiliated it with the University of Arizona but kept it a separate institution. Pastorek’s title changed to senior vice president in July, when the University of Arizona directly acquired UAGC. 
  • Gary Packard Jr. has been appointed interim senior vice provost of online initiatives, a position that oversees UAGC and Arizona Online. 

Dive Insight: 

It’s unclear why Pastorek stepped down. Pam Scott, a University of Arizona spokesperson, did not answer a question Wednesday about what drove the decision. 

Interim Provost Ronald Marx informed employees in a recent email that Packard will now oversee both UAGC — a large online college catering to working adults — and Arizona Online, which offers the same programs as the state flagship. 

“This alignment will ensure consistent strategic oversight and coordination of the university’s online initiatives,” Marx wrote.

Packard has been the dean of the University of Arizona’s College of Applied Science and Technology. He previously served as the vice dean for curriculum and strategy at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he led academic strategic planning, facilitated diversity and inclusion programming and oversaw the research portfolio, the email stated. 

Controversy has dogged University of Arizona’s acquisition of UAGC — which was previously Ashford University, a for-profit giant that faced accusations of misleading and aggressively recruiting students. 

The state flagship struck a deal to acquire the online college in the hopes of serving working adults. But faculty have worried that Ashford’s checkered reputation would harm the University of Arizona. 

Some of those fears have been borne out. The U.S. Department of Education recently announced it was clearing $72 million in student loans for former Ashford attendees. The agency based its decision on a 2022 court decision against Ashford and its former parent company that found the online college had misled students about its cost and career outcomes. 

The Education Department has said it would seek to recoup the cost from UAGC. If the online college was found liable and couldn’t pay the amount, the University of Arizona could end up on the hook. 

The university has not received a recoupment request from the Education Department, Scott said. 

UAGC has also struggled with enrollment. 

In fall 2020, just before the online college changed hands, it enrolled over 47,000 students, according to federal data. That dropped to around 24,000 students this fall, recent Arizona Board of Regents documents show. 

University of Arizona is also addressing concerns that its days of cash on hand total was below the board’s target. Board documents cited the acquisition of UAGC, which added almost $266 million in operating costs, as one of the reasons for the decline.