A few months after Boston University’s successful merger with Wheelock College, the University of Massachusetts drew a greater degree of scrutiny for its acquisition of Mount Ida College. Families—many of whom had hoped for a merger with nearby Lasell College—were understandably shaken by the news of the quick agreement.
Yet they were offered various options for enrollment elsewhere.
Direct transfer plan
As part of the agreement, Mount Ida students received automatic admission to UMass Dartmouth and a clear path to degree completion there. At a dedicated webpage, families could get responses to common questions organized by category, from admissions and financial aid to housing, dining and student opportunities.
Alternatively, Mount Ida students could transfer to UMass Boston, Lowell or Amherst. While about two hours away, UMass Amherst will take over the physical assets of Mount Ida’s 74-acre suburban-Boston campus.
Students cannot remain on that familiar campus to continue their studies, as UMass plans to operate career preparation programs for high-demand fields there.
Other opportunities for transfer
Dozens of colleges and universities, both private and public, set up customized webpages geared toward Mount Ida students in need of quick transfer. Common enticements included application fee and deadline waivers, guaranteed admission and housing, flexible credit transfers, and expedited enrollment.
Some institutions noted scholarships and other financial aid, or provided lists of academic programs that would match Mount Ida programs. One school that went further is Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, which will provide 20 full-tuition scholarships for current Mount Ida students this fall.
Others can receive first-year scholarships, says Linda Quimby, Franklin Pierce’s vice president of enrollment. “Our goal is to support any and all Mount Ida students who might find our university a good next step.”
Franklin Pierce will accept all Mount Ida credits, and will allow current roommates and students living on the same floor to do the same at Franklin Pierce. The university has a new residence hall set to open this fall.
For high school seniors just accepted to Mount Ida wondering if they would now be automatically eligible to enroll at UMass, administrators at both institutions did not have immediate answers. It was one such question on Mount Ida’s FAQ page.
Mount Ida and UMass have clarified that the deal came about as a result of Mount Ida closing—the state university didn’t force the smaller school to shut its doors.
The most intense pushback has come from UMass Boston. In early May, about 100 students, faculty and staff walked out midday in protest of the acquisition, for not having an opportunity to voice grievances and to ask officials to reconsider the deal.
The rally also drew attention to the Boston institution grappling with a large deficit and needing to manage operations and academic programs despite major cuts to staff and services. Students called funding across the system’s institutions inequitable.
Many UMass Boston stakeholders wonder how the system could support the acquisition. UMass President Meehan said the campuses have independent budgets and that Amherst was borrowing the acquisition funds, which would be offset from “revenue generated as a result of the acquisition.”