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Education company buys Ross for $310 million

Article

St. Kitts, West Indies-Ross University's medical and veterinary medical schools have been sold for $310 million to international higher education company DeVry, Inc. The move comes as longtime veterinary college Dean Michael Shires, DVM, retires and former North Carolina State associate dean Dr. David DeYoung takes his seat.

St. Kitts, West Indies-Ross University's medical and veterinary medical schools have been sold for $310 million to international higher education company DeVry, Inc. The move comes as longtime veterinary college Dean Michael Shires, DVM, retires and former North Carolina State associate dean Dr. David DeYoung takes his seat.

The Caribbean veterinary and medical institutions were bought from equityinvestment firms Leeds, Weld & Co. and J.W. Childs Associates to becomethe third division of a company that includes DeVry University, a nationaltechnical college, and Becker Conviser Professional Review.

Company spokeswoman Jonelle Niffenegger says there won't be many changesto Ross anytime soon, including getting the programs on the road to U.S.accreditation. While most of the 2,500-plus students enrolled in Ross' programsare U.S. citizens, accrediting bodies within the veterinary and medicalprofessions require graduates pass extensive equivalency testing beforepracticing in the United States.

Outgoing Dean Shires says that's not likely to change. The American VeterinaryMedical Association's Council on Education (AVMA-COE) requires accreditedprograms employ research endeavors, he says, and Ross steers clear of that.

"We're not a research university, and we don't want to be,"Shires says. "If the AVMA softened their research criteria, we'd probablybe accredited, but our faculty is here because they're sick and tired ofthat publish or perish crap and don't want to have to worry about it."

The accreditation review is open to any university willing to apply,says Dr. Don Simmons, AVMA-COE staff support. "But the institutionhas to comply with all the standards, research being one of them,"he says.

Attraction to medicine

While Niffenegger stresses DeVry's initial goals are "to own andrun" the university, she admits the public company hasn't had experiencewith medical institutions and says, "While the acquisition expandsour market, it'll take us time to learn this business."

DeVry management views the university as a capital venture, noting toinvestors in a March 19 report that Ross' revenues topped approximately$62 million as of Dec. 31, 2002, with a net income of $18 million.

"Ross University fits out acquisition criteria with its qualityprograms and faculty along with excellent financial performance," DeVryPresident Ronald Taylor writes to investors in a news release. "Inthe 25 years since its founding, Ross University has enjoyed a strong historyof growth to earn its position today as one of the largest providers ofmedical and veterinary education. Ross brings a strong institutional focuson educational quality, and its students reflect the passion for excellenceand desire to excel that we believe defines all DeVry students."

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