SOUTH PORTLAND — Kaplan University, a for-profit, largely online college best known for offering career-building degree programs, has closed its campus on Western Avenue and consolidated its operations in Lewiston.
“As with all situations, including this one, we will put our students first by continuing to support their educational goals,” Stephen White, a university spokesman, said this week.
“All of our students assigned to South Portland learn and study online, so we don’t expect this to have any bearing on their ability to finish their programs and graduate as planned,” he added.
The lease on the South Portland building expired in late November, when the decision was made to close, according to White.
“Kaplan’s commitment to the Maine community is long-standing and strong,” he said. “We have two outstanding campus locations in Lewiston and Augusta and will remain active in the greater Portland community.”
Josh Reny, South Portland’s assistant city manager and economic development director, said Monday that he worked with Kaplan to try and find another suitable location for the university, but nothing meeting its space and other requirements could be found.
He said he’s sorry to see Kaplan leave the area and called it “a good partner in the community” and an institution that “plays a great role in providing workforce education. … It would be great if it could re-establish a footprint here sometime in the future.”
Drew Sigfridson, a broker with CBRE|The Boulos Co., confirmed Monday that Kaplan University had given up its lease at 265 Western Ave.
He said the 19,500-square-foot building will now be occupied by Maine Medical Center, which will use the space for medical offices beginning in 2018.
White said that “flexibility and convenience are two big reasons why (people) choose Kaplan University.” He said most students “are adults who are working and raising families while going to school.”
Kaplan serves more than 33,000 students nationally, with online and on-campus classes, according to its website. Sixty percent of the students are 30 or older and 74 percent are women.
Kaplan offers degree programs in business, criminal justice, education, information technology, legal studies, nursing and more, the website states.
In addition, six years ago, Kaplan added entry-level and ongoing professional licensing programs through its School of Professional and Continuing Education.
Kaplan, an affiliate of Graham Holdings, was founded in 1938 by Stanley H. Kaplan. In an unprecedented deal, Indiana’s Purdue University this year agreed to acquire Kaplan for $1 in a deal that is still pending.
According to The Washington Post, the for-profit company will provide a range of services in exchange for 12.5 percent of the new school’s total revenue. But Kaplan will get paid only after the new entity generates enough revenue to cover its operating costs and other expenses.
Kaplan University vacated this building at 265 Western Ave. in South Portland and consolidated its operations in Lewiston.