UniversityNow Acquires Patten University; Expands Its Network of Affordable Schools Serving Working Adults

Former Mills College President, Dr. Janet L. Holmgren, to Lead Patten University

OAKLAND, Calif.--()--At a time when working Americans desperately need more affordable, flexible degree options, UniversityNow, Inc., one of the nation’s most innovative higher education companies, today announced a groundbreaking option for earning a bachelor’s degree without incurring student debt.

San Francisco-based UniversityNow is acquiring Patten University, a regionally accredited four-year institution with deep roots in Oakland, California that is highly respected for educating community and civic leaders. The acquisition enables Patten University to continue to serve Bay Area students while extending its national reach. Beginning this fall, Patten University will offer convenient options for students to earn bachelor’s degrees online at a total cost of less than $10,600, including tuition, books, and fees. Earlier this year, UniversityNow launched New Charter University, the first school in its network of affordable, accredited universities.

Policymakers and the public continue to be frustrated by skyrocketing college tuition and student loan debt. UniversityNow officials believe that a major part of the solution lies in significantly reducing the cost of attending college. In keeping with that conviction, Patten will introduce an affordable, flat-rate tuition model, eliminating the need for federal financial aid.

As part of the move, Patten and New Charter have established a new dual-admission degree pathway whereby students at New Charter University can transfer to Patten’s online degree program and earn a regionally accredited degree for under $8,000.

“We’re proud to invest the resources that Patten needs to pursue its mission, while effectively preparing students nationwide for the 21st century workforce,” said Gene Wade, CEO of UniversityNow. “This is a major step toward achieving the UniversityNow vision of making a high-quality college education available to any qualified student who seeks it.”

UniversityNow Furthers Its Commitment to High-Quality Post-Secondary Education

Consistent with UniversityNow’s deep commitment to making quality higher education widely accessible, Dr. Janet Holmgren, former president of Mills College, has been appointed president of Patten University. Dr. Holmgren is a nationally respected leader in higher education. In addition to leading Mills College for two decades, Dr. Holmgren served as vice provost at Princeton University, as a senior administrator at the University of Maryland, College Park, and as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“UniversityNow’s support will facilitate the expansion of Patten’s degree offerings, and further its institutional commitment to social justice and leadership preparation. It will also allow Patten to continue the unique and important role it plays in Oakland, one of the major urban centers of California,” said Dr. Holmgren. “Combining innovative online offerings serving working adults with on-campus programs geared for traditional college-age students, we will demonstrate that quality and affordability in higher education are pivotal to meeting the needs of the next generation of students.”

Patten to Offer Flat-Rate Tuition

With Patten’s new flat-rate tuition of $1,316 per semester (four monthly payments of $329), annual tuition for an online bachelor’s degree totals only $2,632, including books and fees. This is significantly less than the average annual tuition and fees of $14,487 and $28,500 charged by for-profit and non-profit universities, respectively, according to the College Board’s 2011 Trends in College Pricing.

“UniversityNow’s strategy of launching a network of universities that offers affordable tuition was designed with working adults in mind. These students are least likely to qualify for federal and state grants, and thus, have the fastest-growing student loan debts,” says Wade. Patten University will continue offering online courses for non-degree students for $133 per credit hour, books included.

About UniversityNow

Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, UniversityNow, Inc. ( seeks to address the challenges of college cost, access, and completion rates by operating high-quality, affordable, private universities that leverage the latest advances in technology and adult learning. UniversityNow’s mission is to help ensure that high-quality post-secondary education is available to people everywhere.

UniversityNow’s investors include University Ventures, Bertelsmann AG, Kapor Capital and Novak Biddle Venture Partners, groups that focus on investing in technology-driven companies. Additional investors include Floodgate Capital, Greylock Partners, Charles River Ventures, SV Angel, and 500 Startups, all of whom are leading consumer internet investors.

About Patten University

Patten University ( is a regionally accredited, four-year private university with a campus in Oakand, California. Founded in 1944, the University offers a values-based liberal arts curriculum and has a distinctive tradition of empowering students by preparing them for enriching careers, effective leadership and service to the community.

About New Charter University

New Charter University (, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UniversityNow, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. New Charter University is currently enrolling students seeking associate, bachelor's and master's degrees in its online degree programs in business, and later this year will introduce online degree programs in public policy and administration, and criminal justice. In 2012, New Charter University was announced as the recipient of a $300,000 competitive grant for “breakthrough models in college completion” by Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), a collaborative partnership led by EDUCAUSE, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the League for Innovation in the Community College.


for UniversityNow, Inc.
Kelly Davis, 202-955-9450 x318

Release Summary

UniversityNow has acquired Patten University and is announcing a dual-admission model so students can transfer from New Charter University to Patten University to earn their degree.


for UniversityNow, Inc.
Kelly Davis, 202-955-9450 x318