Hype and Hope at Labor College

National Labor College and the Princeton Review had high hopes for the online education partnership they formed in January 2010, declaring at its creation that they planned to create the largest online college ever in just five years.

Those plans have changed, however, with the college’s announcement Monday that the partnership was ending. Its termination "follows the Princeton Review’s decision to focus its investments and strategy on the company’s core operations," according to a written statement from the college.

Paula Peinovich, the institution’s president, said the partnership "was rather overblown" in its initial goals. But despite the hype, she said that the college made substantial strides by working with the Princeton Review, and that the "amicable parting" with the company would have no negative effect on students or the college’s operation. The current online programs will also remain in place.

The collaboration was initially as controversial as it was ambitious. National Labor College is the academic arm of organized labor, and receives substantial support from the AFL-CIO. It provides bachelor’s degree completion programs and certificate offerings to a market of as many as 17 million union members and their families. Some faculty members at other colleges and union officials were aghast at the partnership, arguing that turning to a for-profit company for help in expanding was a slap in the face to the values of academic labor.

The deal was touted as part of a growing number of efficiency-creating collaborations between for-profit entities and nonprofit higher education.

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