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July 24, 2012

Endicott backs off merger with Boston school

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.

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