Tiny Lebanon College Shuts Down

Tiny Lebanon College Shuts Down

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Small colleges continue to find it difficult to survive and Lebanon College in New Hampshire is one of the latest to close its doors. The college, with just over 150 students enrolled, was just days away from launching its fall semester when the school’s president, Ron Biron, announced that classes had been canceled.

President Biron explained that low enrollment numbers had forced the college to shut down. The college’s board of trustees had expected to see a significant jump in enrollment this fall, particularly with its allied health programs and certificates. When fewer then half of the number of new students enrolled, the college realized it did not have the numbers nor the finances to move forward.

Accredited College

Lebanon College was founded in 1956 and has always operated as a two-year private college. Fully accredited by the American Council of Independent Schools and Colleges, Lebanon’s growth has always been slow and methodical, carefully adding academic programs over the years. Lebanon acquired some property in town, including an old Woolworth’s building and later acquired a larger building to house its health and science programs.

In recent year’s the college received permission to offer bachelor’s (four-year) degrees in two areas: nursing and radiology. The school also pushed for a modest endowment program, in a bid to raise $3 million.

Declining Enrollment

Located near the Vermont border and two hours from Boston, Lebanon College attracted local students. In its peak years, the mid-1980s, the college had more than 1,000 students enrolled according to the Boston Globe. Enrollment then began to gradually decline to 500 students a decade before it shut down.

Shutting down the college with less than a week before the new academic year began put Lebanon’s students in a predicament. The college posted a notice to its website that fall classes were canceled, the first step before the school would formally close.

College Transfers

The website was later updated to include information for students seeking to transfer. Both River Valley Community College and Franklin Pierce University announced that they would accept Lebanon students enrolled in certain programs including business, criminal justice and allied health.

River Valley also held a special open house for Lebanon students on Aug. 28; both schools said they would provide special credit transfer consideration, waive certain fees and/or provide tuition discounts.

More Closures?

Lebanon College, like many other small colleges and universities depends largely on tuition to fund its operation. In April 2014, Bloomberg shared the struggles of Long Island’s Dowling College, an Oakdale, New York, school noted for its aviation program. Like other small colleges, it has lost students and currently survives on a very small endowment, relying on student tuition to keep going.

That same Bloomberg article also referenced a finding by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christiansen. The professor said that as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the US “may fail in the next 15 years.” If so, then the experience of Lebanon College’s student body may be repeated often over the coming years.

See Also5 Colleges That Have Shut Down in Recent Years

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Categories: Campus News