Mourning the Death of a University: Post Script

This will be my last posting about Urbana University where I received my B.A, in 1975. If you have been following my postings you are aware Urbana University was acquired by Franklin University in late April.

It took little time for the next financial steps to be implemented. In an email titled “Exciting Updates at Urbana University” the third paragraph was a whopper though not a total surprise:

To work toward the financial viability required to accomplish the revitalization efforts listed above, some tough self-examination and economic decisions had to be made. These decisions include the reduction of nine staff and faculty positions, as well as the reduction of 12 currently vacant positions. As part of these efforts, Dr. Kirk Peterson, appointed in 2013 as Urbana’s Interim President and in 2014 as President, has announced his resignation, recognizing that “it was time to step aside and allow the new institution to operate the University without impediment.

Dr. Peterson, did the honorable thing by resigning since it appears he did not support the actions taken. I believe he will bounce back and have a future in university work. Hopefully those who lost their jobs today will quickly find suitable jobs elsewhere. The former trustees of the 21st century who had responsibility for the institution failed in its duty by not providing the leadership for Urbana to stand alone and be financially viable. 

My final comment is to all alumni of small universities; if you do not want the institution to have a similar fate of closure or being acquired, get actively engaged by volunteering your time and by giving your financial support no matter the amount. Make sure the administration and trustees know you exist and make your thoughts and support known. You can talk up your school, assist in recruiting, help a new grad get a job, and show future students and potential supporters your success is due in part to where you attended college. If you don’t, you may well have no alma mater one day soon.

Follow-up to Mourning the Death of a University

The acquisition of Urbana University by Franklin University has received a great deal of coverage mostly in the regional Ohio papers since it was announced on the 29th of April. In addition I have heard from a number of trustees, faculty, former administrators and alumni on their feelings via the blog and Facebook. Almost all feel Urbana had no other option but to make this deal. It was no longer possible to continue and most likely the banks would have no other choice but to call for payment of debt.

How Franklin University will manage a “traditional university” in its portfolio remains to be seen. What happens to staff and faculty and how Franklin position themselves with Urbana alumni and donors is unclear.  I believe Franklin made the acquisition because it was a good business decision and will work to make it successful. Let’s hope they are right.

I have added a link called: “Financial missteps, debt led to sale of university” written by Matt Sanctis of the Springfield News-Sun. It’s a good read reporting why Urbana made the decision to sell.