On April 21, 2020, Urbana University became the first college in Ohio to close down for good due to financial pressure brought about by the Wuhan virus.
Urbana University has a long history of financial woes and declining enrollment. In 2014, Franklin University, a private non-profit university in Columbus, bought the liberal arts college.
Since the acquisition, Urbana has served as a “branch campus” for Franklin.
Approximately 75 percent of Urban’s 1,254 students do not attend classes on the school’s physical campus and will then proceed to take online classes at Franklin. The remaining 25 percent are residential and commuter students who take online classes. Those students will have the opportunity to complete their programs online through Franklin University, or transfer to other institutions.
According to an announcement from the university’s website, 111 full-time employees have been impacted by this decision. Some of the employees will have employment offers at Franklin. Employees who don’t transfer to Franklin will be offered severance packages.
The Wuhan virus pandemic pushed colleges to close physical campuses in March. Students were then required to take classes online for the rest of the semester. Although Ohio has plans of slowly re-opening businesses after May 1, it’s still up in the air if the pandemic will keep colleges and K-12 schools closed during the fall semester.
The uncertainty in both enrolment numbers and the potential loss of housing money could pose major threats to colleges. Elected officials allocated $14 billion in federal stimulus towards higher education, according to a report from Inside Higher Ed.
“Our highest priority is to ensure students experience a seamless transition of their academic studies and that our branch campus employees have the resources to make their transition as well,” declared Franklin University President David Decker in the announcement. “As institutions of higher education across the country struggle to identify ways to stay open, we will do all we can to help students identify the best alternative forward to fulfill their education goals in an affordable manner.”