The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

June 28, 2013

Ashford cuts total $6.2 million

By Katie Dahlstrom Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — SAN DIEGO — Ashford University's parent company Bridgepoint Education will pay $6.2 million to employees who recently accepted a buyout offer.

The company disclosed the amount in a filing this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

On June 12, Ashford offered all staff besides faculty, admissions and select other personnel a voluntary resignation program in order to align the company's payroll with declining enrollment.

In the first quarter of this year, total student enrollment at Bridgepoint Education's academic institutions — Ashford University and University of the Rockies — was 78,782, compared with 94,863 a year prior.

Bridgepoint officials declined to comment on how many of the company's more than 4,000 non-faculty employees accepted the voluntary buyout. Ashford employs approximately 400 in Clinton, including those who were excluded from the resignation program.

Employees from Clinton, California and Colorado were eligible and were notified on or before Monday that they would no longer work for Ashford. Those who resigned will receive three months of severance.

This round of workforce reductions is not the first of the university's efforts to cut staff. Clinton employees were unaffected in September when Ashford cut 450 employees from the San Diego, Calif., and Denver offices.

The San Diego-based university has been under scrutiny from its accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, since being denied initial accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges last June.

Ashford officials re-applied and will learn early next month if their second accreditation bid was successful.

If denied accreditation by the WASC, the regional accrediting body that covers institutions in California where Ashford maintains a substantial administrative and executive presence and where a majority of the institution's students are based, Ashford would need to move the bulk of its operations into the Midwest in order to maintain accreditation with the HLC.