Mount Ida College will no longer accept freshmen upon the completion of the Spring 2018 semester. The college will effectively close in June to become an extension of UMass Amherst.
Mount Ida, a college that many ENC sports teams frequently played, previously proposed a merger with Lasell College, but negotiations fell through. When Mount Ida realized they would not be able to open in Fall 2018, they turned to UMass. UMass Amherst is acquiring Mount Ida’s campus, but current students will automatically be enrolled at UMass Dartmouth with in-state-tuition rates.
UMass Dartmouth does not offer all the same degree programs that Mount Ida does, most notably the funeral services programs. All of Mount Ida’s employees’ contracts will be terminated. High school students who submitted their deposits for Fall 2018 will be refunded their deposits, and are now scrambling to find another institution to attend.
Like Eastern Nazarene College, Mount Ida was dealing with debt. Their debt is in the range of $55 to $70 million. Kyla Ellis, a freshman at Mount Ida, said the merger was described as, “Lasell helping to pay our debt in exchange for their students being able to take classes and have majors that were provided at our school along with us being able to take classes on their campus.”
Barry Brown, the President of Mount Ida, turned down that offer, although Ellis says she is not sure why. Ellis said she found out about the UMass buyout through social media before a professional email was sent out. She says the email “didn’t really explain anything well and left us all hanging.”
As for Ellis, her plans going forward are shaky. She has been majoring in Interior Architecture, but her major was not offered at UMass Dartmouth. She says the people in charge of her major at Mount Ida began communicating with other schools around Massachusetts and asking colleges to take over the program. Eventually, UMass Dartmouth began offering the program.
Ellis says, “it was a rough two weeks thinking about having to go back to square one and apply to colleges all over again, and some students are still in that position, which is awful. But the president of Mount Ida did nothing to give our program a home and offered no answers or help, which I find completely inappropriate.”
The morale on campus is low. The overall feeling is shock, Ellis describes. “[Students] have become really good friends and believed that we would be together for the next four years and now, some of us may never see each other again,” she says. “But right now, it’s just everyone trying to enjoy the time we have left together.”