A growing Endicott College, which last month opened a new Gloucester campus on Commercial Street, has backed out on a- plan to merge with a two-year college in Boston due to concerns about taking on the other school’s financial problems.
Endicott trustees in Beverly had voted unanimously last month to approve a merger with the Urban College of Boston, effective Aug. 1. But Endicott President Richard Wylie said he and senior management decided last week to scuttle the plan over concerns about inheriting Urban College’s debt and other financial obligations.
“We just were not comfortable at the end without more detailed information,” Wylie said. “We felt we couldn’t risk the institution.”
The Urban College of Boston offers two-year associate degrees in early childhood education, human services and general studies for mostly low-income and immigrant students. It has an enrollment of 600.
Wylie has a long association with the school. He helped to start the college in 1993 while he was an administrator at Lesley College, and he served as the first chairman of its board of trustees.
Endicott College has offered a full scholarship to an Urban College graduate for the last 10 years.
Urban College President Robert Regan said the school ran into financial trouble when the federal government cut $700,000 in annual funding last year and the U.S. Department of Education said the school was no longer eligible for Pell Grant funding.
Regan said he approached Wylie, whom he has known for years, about forming a partnership.
“The plan was for Endicott to basically take over the Urban College of Boston,” Regan said. “We would operate under Endicott’s accreditation. Dick was excited about that, and I was excited about that.”
But Wylie said the merger was too complicated to consummate in such a short period of time, and there were too many unanswered questions about Urban College’s financial situation.
“It had all the potential of success, but tight timelines and limited information on financial exposure made it difficult,” he said. “It’s extremely disappointing because it’s something that I believed in and helped create.”
Regan said he understands Wylie’s decision and is not upset.
“There were just too many anxieties related to the timeline,” Regan said. “Dick had to prepare a massive report for NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges). The Department of Education was going to do a close-out audit. From Dick’s point of view, we just ran out of time and the comfort level was not there. He called me late in the day on Tuesday and said, ‘Bob, we’re just going to have to pull out.’
“We love Endicott and we love Dick, but we just ran out of time,” he said. “We might reconnect in the future, but it would be in less stressful and less urgent moments.”
Endicott, meanwhile, launched its new satellite campus in Gloucester last month by hosting an informational and business networking reception organized by the city and growing out of Gloucester’s Maritime Summit last fall.
The Marine and Oceanographic Technology Network provided the expertise and connections for that event.
“One of (Endicott’s) reasons for expanding into Gloucester was to have a facility for marine technology,” said MOTEN President Harlen Doliner.
Endicott’s Gloucester facility, which will also host classes this fall, is based at 33 Commercial St,, in the Chamber of Commerce building owned by local developer Mac Bell.
Paul Leighton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.