One traditional undergraduate university to close

Benedictine University SpringfieldBenedictine University of Springfield will close its undergraduate program next year.  To start off that sad process, it’s laying off 75 of its 100 full-time staff.

Why is that BU ending?  Because of money, of course, but in an unusual way.  They can’t afford to keep up with the non-academic, student life demands of today’s undergraduate marketplace:

“We would need to have an athletic facility, a student center, and we would need to grow out residence hall population,” [Michael Bromberg, president] said. “We would need to spend a minimum of $40 million, and we have no reason to believe that would make us more competitive than we are today.”

That’s the traditional undergraduate market, for learners aged 18-22.  Adult learners are whom BUS will continue to serve, presumably because they don’t need sports, a student center, and forms.

To return to some of this blog’s usual themes, today’s story brings together quite a few of them: demographics (shrinking number of teens), finance, and hard choices for American higher education.

(via Robert Maguire)

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12 Responses to One traditional undergraduate university to close

  1. Judson Curry says:

    It’s probably important to note that Benedictine University itself is not closing; the Springfield location is a branch campus, one of several. The post’s title might lead one to think that the entire university is closing. The reality is less significant or dire (in this case).

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    • Hmmm. Good point. But isn’t BUS a standalone university?

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      • Judson Curry says:

        Benedictine U. is a private, Catholic university, with its main campus in Lisle, IL, just outside Chicago. It has/had branch campuses in Springfield, IL, Mesa, AZ, and Naperville, IL, I believe, as well as other sites in IL. It sounds as if the Springfield location will become more like the Naperville Moser Center, which focuses on adult and graduate programs only. The Mesa campus includes traditional, residential programs, as well as adult and graduate.

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      • Which will involve shedding a small undergraduate program.
        So BUS is a standalone campus, which means the post’s title is correct.

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  2. amichaelberman says:

    I feel bad for all the people whose lives will be affected by this change. But there has been a tremendous expansion in higher education campuses, missions, and enrollment over the past 30 years, so some retrenchments are inevitable. The question is, how much of this is “disruption” caused by major changes in the way that higher education operates and the entry of new models, and how much of it is simple demographics and the result of poor planning and bad choices? I think it’s very hard to tell as this point. As Hemingway wrote “[We went bankrupt] two ways … gradually, then suddenly.” It’s impossible to tell a slow and steady chance from the beginnings of an exponential curve when you’re at the beginning. Only in retrospect will we know.

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    • I think demographics play an enormous role, Michael. We had strong population growth at the 1-18 age group for generations, and it only stalled recently.

      Finance plays a major role as well, with loans carrying students and also floating some private campuses.

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  3. mark K says:

    Unfortunately, this “undergraduate college experience” will be filled with broken promises and shattered dreams. Not the expected return on their investment.

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  4. davidjhinson says:

    Reblogged this on David J. Hinson's Logorrhea and commented:
    Wow.

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  5. Pingback: One conventional undergraduate college to shut | Posts

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