The University of the Arts abruptly announces its June 7 closure and promises to help students transition

PHILADELPHIA PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The University of the Arts, an institution with roots more than a century and a half old in Philadelphia, has abruptly announced it will close in a week, citing declining enrollment and revenue and rising costs.

University President Kerry Walk and Board of Trustees Chairman Judson Aaron announced the June 7 closure in a message posted to the university’s website Friday evening, calling it “heartbreaking” and “very painful.” Separate town halls with students, faculty and staff are planned for Monday, they said.

Officials at the university — which has offered programs in design, visual arts, media arts, music, dance and theater — said summer classes will be canceled and no new class will be enrolled in the fall. They pledged to help continuing students transfer to other institutions, such as Temple and Drexel universities and Moore College of Art and Design.

Officials said the University of the Arts was in a “fragile financial condition,” like many higher education institutions, after “many years of declining enrollments, declining revenues and rising costs,” but had made progress in improving its position .

“Unfortunately, however, we were unable to overcome the ultimate challenge we faced: with a cash position that has steadily weakened, we were unable to cover the significant, unexpected expenses,” they said. “The situation came to light very suddenly. Despite quick action, we have not been able to bridge the necessary gaps.”

Word of the closure initially came from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which announced the revocation of the school’s accreditation as of Saturday and said it was notified of the impending closure on Wednesday as the summer term began. School officials said action was taken before they could announce the closure to the university community and they knew this “makes hearing the news of the abrupt closure of UArts even worse.”

The University of the Arts grew out of two century-old institutions, the Philadelphia College of Art – founded in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art – and the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, both of which changed names before eventually becoming 1985 merged. and becoming a university two years later.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the university employs just under 700 faculty and staff who will ultimately be out of work. Walk told the newspaper that the school opened in the fall with 1,149 students, up from 2,038 in 2013.

Earlier this year, the university’s faculty and board reached a provisional agreement on the first contract in the school’s history after more than three years of negotiations. In January, another art school, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, announced the elimination of its undergraduate and graduate fine arts programs.