Education

Marylhurst University to close at end of 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. (LAKE OSWEGO REVIEW) -- Marylhurst University announced Thursday that it will end operations by the end of 2018.

The decision was made by the school's board of trustees after an analysis found that Marylhurst could not counter a trend of declining enrollment, the school said in a news release.

'At the beginning of the 2013-14 fall term, 1,409 students were enrolled," the release said. "By fall term 2017-18, enrollment had declined to 743 students. Projections for fall 2018-19 show enrollment will continue to decline."

Marylhurst University President Melody Rose said students, faculty and staff will be her focus throughout the transition. Academic advisers will be available to answer immediate questions from students, she said, and meetings and information sessions are being scheduled with other colleges and universities, financial advisers, human resources and others in the coming days.

The university is working with 81 students who could complete their degrees by the end of summer 2018 by taking additional summer classes. The university is also preparing individualized transfer plans for the estimated 324 students remaining this fall to help ensure they're able to complete their degrees.

Regular classes are expected to continue at least through the end of spring term, school officials said; all operations will cease by the end of the year.

"While this decision is sad and difficult for everyone involved, we feel it's the best decision for students, faculty, staff and our entire community," said Chip Terhune, chair-elect of the Marylhurst University Board of Trustees. "The Board evaluated multiple factors before reaching this conclusion, including an ongoing decline in enrollment, the extensive efforts made over the past several years by campus leadership to overcome these challenges, response to community needs and existing access to higher education. We are confident this is the most responsible and respectful course of action to take for everyone involved."

The Lake Oswego Review is a KOIN 6 News media partner

As the board's chair-elect, Terhune will oversee the realignment of Marylhurst's resources. He made the announcement to faculty and staff on Thursday morning.

According to Terhune, the board's decision is the result of a long and thoughtful decision-making process in which the trustees worked closely with university leadership to determine a solution that put students, faculty and staff first. The board reviewed numerous reorganization scenarios and strategies, he said.

"Despite these efforts, there was no viable financial path that would have enabled us to sustain the high level of academic programming for which we have always strived without putting an extreme, unsustainable burden on our students, faculty and staff," Terhune said.

The decision to close also ensured Marylhurst didn't encounter the accreditation issues, recalled loans or negative audits that often accompany other universities' closures, he said.

"On behalf of my fellow Trustees, I want to thank Dr. Rose for her expertise and leadership during these challenging times and express our continued trust in her as she shepherds our community through this transition," Terhune said. "We value her guidance and her insistence on prioritizing what's best for students, faculty and the rest of the Marylhurst community."

Marylhurst is a heritage site of the Sisters of the Holy Names. Following the closure of the university, the campus will be returned to the Sisters, the university said Thursday.

But that's not the case everywhere, according to Linfield College Director of Media Relations Christian Feuerstein.

"The Linfield College community is saddened to hear about the closure of Marylhurst University. Marylhurst has educated many who are now serving and leading in their communities, in Oregon and elsewhere. We are pained by this loss, and sorry for the students, alumni, faculty and staff whose lives will be impacted," Feurestein wrote, Thursday. "While these are tumultuous times in higher education, we recognize that Marylhurst's story is not the story of every private college. At Linfield, our endowment is at an all-time high and we were among the top Oregon producers of Fulbright Scholars in 2017-18. One of every four Linfield students is first-generation, and the college's student body is significantly more diverse than the population of Oregon."

Feuerstein notes that Linfield is prepared to provide transcript review, academic advising and information about admission and financial aid to Marylhurst students on an expedited basis. Interested students can reach Linfield at 800-640-2287 or admission@linfield.edu. 


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