UMass acquires Mt. Ida campus, to accept Mt. Ida students to UMass Dartmouth

NEWTON, Mass. – Closing its doors with the 2018 commencement ceremonies, Mount Ida College, which owes millions in debt, announced an asset acquisition by the University of Massachusetts in a joint statement Friday. The 280 faculty and staff of the school will lose their jobs at the school, but some may be able to find positions within the UMass system at some point.

In response to the statement, Mount Ida President Barry Brown said: “The challenges for small colleges in the current economic and demographic landscape are significant. Working with UMass, we have devised a way forward that ensures the well-being of our students, enhances the academic capacity of the region, and preserve’s Mount Ida’s legacy and history.”

In its take over, UMass will assume Mount Ida’s debt, which is between $55 million and $70 million, according to the Boston Globe.

A private, nonprofit college, Mount Ida College was established in 1899. Its curriculum included hands-on experience in the veterinary technology, dental hygiene,
forensic science, game art/animation, interior design and architecture, biology, and pre-medicine fields.

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In exchange for the assumption of debt and some of Mount Ida’s vendor contracts, UMass Amherst will acquire the school’s 74-acre campus and all physical assets of the school. Therein, it plans to establish the Mount Ida Campus of UMass Amherst – a Greater Boston career preparation and experiential learning center geared toward UMass Amherst students pursuing careers in Massachusetts’ health care, business, computer science and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries.

UMass Amherst awarded 1,700 undergraduate degrees in the STEM fields in 2017.

The Mount Ida Campus of UMass Amherst will also be the home of all UMass Amherst academic-industry collaborations.

“This is a strategic move that will expand career opportunities for our students and help
drive the Massachusetts economy while strengthening the flagship campus’s position in
the competitive national higher education marketplace,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor
Kumble Subbaswamy in the release.

He added: “The Mount Ida campus’s ideal location will help us grow a much needed talent pipeline for Massachusetts businesses, especially in high-demand STEM fields.”

Through what the schools are calling a “UMassD Gurantee,” all “students in good standing” from Mount Ida will receive automatic admission to UMass Dartmouth as well as expedited transfer admission opportunities to UMass campuses in Boston, Lowell and Amherst.

Mount Ida students will pay in-state UMass tuition rates which, per a Mount Ida spokeswoman, are “equal to or less than” the rates billed by Mount Ida.

“We are fully prepared to offer Mount Ida students the private college educational
experience they are accustomed to at a public university value,” said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson in prepared remarks.

There are roughly 1,450 undergraduate students currently enrolled on Mount Ida’s Newton-based campus. Spring 2018 classes will continue, but the school’s operations will cease  with commencement of its graduating seniors.

In a statement, UMass President Marty Meehan said he is pleased with the acquisition of the Mount Ida facilities, but “most importantly, I am pleased that we are able to offer Mount Ida an opportunity to preserve a pathway to degree completion for its students.”

Prior to the announcement Friday, Mount Ida had participated in talks with Lasell College – also based in Newton – however, those were concluded when the respective boards could not come to an agreement.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.