Another small college is closing, unless a for-profit buys it

Dowling-sealNew York’s Dowling College has been in financial trouble for a while. Now its leadership have decided to shut the campus down.  And so another American higher education institution dies.

The culprits were – do I need to write them again?  Enrollment and unsustainable debt: “Dowling saw enrollment plunge from 6,379 students in 2005 to 2,453 by the fall of 2014 as it struggled to repay $54 million in debt…”

Once again, we read of a human toll: “2,400 graduate and undergraduate students… About 400 professors, administrators and other staffers were laid off…”

Dowling’s leadership is still fighting, angling for a deal that could save them.  It’s an unusual one, involving another country and a different educational sector, according to Newsday:

Michael Puorro, chairman of the college’s board, told Newsday that trustees still are in “serious talks” with United Kingdom-based Global University Systems, an international network of postsecondary institutions.

If a deal is reached, he said, Dowling would not close and the firm would make a significant financial investment and supply students to the school.

Who is GUS?  According to their site,

an international network of higher-education institutions, brought together by a shared passion for accessible, industry-relevant qualifications. GUS delivers a wide variety of programmes, including bachelor’s degree programmes, master’s degree programmes, professional training, English Language training, and corporate & executive education.

According to Wikipedia, GUS “owns and operates several private for-profit colleges and universities in the UK, Canada, and Europe as well as other brands and companies in the education sector such as the e-learning platform InterActive.”

This is a board action.  Newsweek says the president is still shutting things down, but the Dowling website has hopes for GUS:

Dowling homepage

One more important detail concerns Dowling hunting for a merger or other savior:

“As painful as this announcement is we want the student body, faculty and alumni to know that we made every effort to form a suitable academic affiliation so that we could keep the college open,” said Albert Inserra, the seventh Dowling president in 12 years…

How many such efforts are now underway across America, behind closed doors?

(thanks to Lee Skallerup Bessette)

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3 Responses to Another small college is closing, unless a for-profit buys it

  1. VanessaVaile says:

    many I suspect. what would you say is the main cause of institutional debt — and the best strategies for avoiding it?

    • Several causes: overspending during 1995-2008; investing too much in financial deals that didn’t yield, or crashed; not investing enough in faculty and senior admin; rising health care costs.
      I don’t know how many went into debt to make up for declining students #s and/or rising discount rates.

      Avoiding it… at this point, it’s too late for many of these causes.

      • VanessaVaile says:

        I’d add expansion/construction — fyi many BoT appointees are in construction — and perhaps set the overspending start earlier. I also recall reading somewhere in history of US higher ed that there are more colleges per area or capita than any other country.

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