UTA president steps down after report reveals questionable vendor relationship

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University of Texas at Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari stepped down from his post Thursday after an investigation revealed questionable dealings with a vendor, The Dallas Morning News reported. 

The investigation, conducted by outside consulting firm Protiviti, found improper financial relationships between a lower-level UTA administrator and a private vendor that aided the school in providing an online nursing program. That examination also revealed that Karbhari took two international trips with the company’s executives and worked with the vendor to expedite enrollment processes, which resulted in under-qualified students entering the nursing program, the newspaper reported.

Karbhari had already agreed to leave UTA on Aug. 31 but stepped down shortly after the report was publicly released Thursday. Despite that move, he wrote a letter to UT System officials denying the report’s allegations, calling the conclusions flawed. The report doesn’t name the vendor, but Karbhari refers to Academic Partnerships in his letter, the Morning News reported.

That company released a statement Thursday that said it was “committed to our relationship with UT-Arlington and to student access and outcomes.”

The investigation found that Karbhari dismissed concerns from staff at the school about the online enrollment process while also suggesting to the vendor that grade average standards be lowered to increase enrollment. The vendor donated more than $2 million to UTA while collecting $178 million over five years as part of its contract, the newspaper reported.

In a response to the report, school officials said expedited enrollment helped UTA avoid losing students to admission delays and provided more flexibility to prospective students. The response said that Karbhari should have given great oversight to the contract because it was the largest one at the school.

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