Wal-Mart Finds Ally in Education
Published: June 9, 2010
What promises to be a lucrative arrangement between the country’s largest retailer and an education company based in West Virginia started with an unsolicited e-mail message in October.
The retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, was looking for a partner to offer online college courses to its work force in the United States. Might American Public Education — which runs two Web-based universities — be interested?
By January, American Public put together a team devoted to landing the Wal-Mart contract, and last week, the two companies announced an agreement. Wal-Mart committed to spending $50 million over the next three years in tuition and other assistance for employees who enroll.
Since then, shares in the $850 million education company, which started 19 years ago as a provider of classes to military personnel and now offers degrees in 76 fields, have risen 11 percent, and its profile in the for-profit education field has soared.
“It puts them on the map in a way they haven’t been,” said Trace A. Urdan, senior analyst in San Francisco with Signal Hill, an investment bank.
And the partnership, in Wal-Mart’s eyes, could be a tool to improve American competitiveness, American Public’s chief executive, Wallace E. Boston Jr., said on Wednesday at a conference sponsored by UBS in New York.
But the choice of American Public, which has about 70,000 students in 100 countries, was
A message sent to parents of Claremont Preparatory School did not say why the headmaster would not be returning.