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The University of Arizona announced yesterday that its acquisition of Ashford University from Zovio Inc. was approved by Ashford’s accreditor, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Ashford, a for-profit online university with 35,000 students and 50 degree programs, will become the University of Arizona Global Campus under the deal, announced in August. The Global Campus will be a nonprofit corporation operating in affiliation with the University of Arizona. But it will remain an independent institution, according to a press release.

The conversion of for-profit universities to nonprofits has drawn scrutiny from some critics, making accreditor approval in the Arizona-Ashford transaction an important development.

Paul Pastorek, an education attorney, is leading the transition as Global Campus interim president. Nine members were appointed to the online university’s inaugural Board of Directors: Lehman Benson III, Gail Burd, Marc L. Miller, Gary Packard, Kerri Briggs, Nivine Megahed, Sean O’Keefe, Ty Smith and Omar Vasquez.

The transaction is expected to be finalized in December. It is similar to a 2017 deal in which Purdue University acquired the for-profit Kaplan University and created the online nonprofit Purdue University Global.

(This text has been corrected to note that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission is Ashford University's accreditor.)