Phi Beta Cons

Culture

Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em

Closure or consolidation of public universities is rare, but sometimes necessary.

College closures have been in the news in the past few months. They’re nothing new; roughly five or so have closed on average for many years. Usually, closures involve private non-profit schools, such as Sweet Briar College, or for-profit schools, such as the Corinthian College chain.

But few public schools face the ax. Whenever one is threatened—even with consolidation rather than closure—opposition arises that prevents any real action from occurring. For years, Louisiana has toyed with merging the University of New Orleans with its next-door neighbor, Southern University of New Orleans. Yet it has not been able to proceed, despite a desperate need to economize. Georgia, on the other hand, has managed to move forward with several consolidations of its public universities.

Jenna Robinson has gathered some common sense criteria for when to close or consolidate colleges and universities, using the University of North Carolina as an example. UNC’s Board of Governors will soon be exploring possible ways to make its 17-campus system more efficient, with closure and consolidation on the table.

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