Dying Colleges

Along the lines of some of my cheery past posts on U.S. colleges and universities, here are a few more to put on the deathwatch:

Cheyney University has been given a show cause order by its accreditor. It must demonstrate by September 1 why its accreditation should not be pulled. For international readers of this blog who might be unfamiliar with the U.S. system of higher education, I explain the significance of accreditation here. Cheyney is a public institution that is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). I’ve referenced PASSHE before; its basic problem is over-capacity — too many campuses for too few students. Making matters worse, Cheyney is what’s known in the United States as a historically black college or university (HBCU). HBCUs were created to serve African-Americans who, during the pre-Civil Rights Act era of segregation, were denied admission to many colleges and universities. Today college-bound African-Americans have a much wider range of choices of where to attend, and many HBCUs are struggling as a result.

Georgetown College of Kentucky and MacMurray College of Illinois are, like Cheyney University, on probation. Georgetown College has one more year to sort out its problems. MacMurray must file evidence that it has met the criteria of its accreditor by November 1 and it will be subject to an on-site evaluation in December. In June of 2018, the accreditor will make a final determination on whether MacMurray complied with the terms of its probation or if its accreditation should be revoked.

Ten tenured faculty members at the College of New Rochelle in New York were recently fired as part of an ongoing effort to reduce operating costs. In 2016, an audit discovered that New Rochelle had not paid $20 million in taxes and had another $10 million in unpaid debts — an astounding degree of fiduciary irresponsibility, if not outright fraud.

All of the above institutions are tuition dependent but have suffered from large drops in enrollment, which are shown below.

Undergraduate FTE



∆ %




– 39




– 28




– 12

New Rochelle



– 42

MacMurray is being hurt by its rural location in a state that will continue to see decreasing numbers of 18-year olds until at least 2030. And last year, because of declining economic opportunities caused in large part by defective state government, Illinois lost a greater number of residents than any other state in the country — many of whom were high school graduates who enrolled at universities in other states. Given MacMurray’s already-tiny enrollment, the lack of an adequately-sized pool of potential students to recruit from, its meager financial resources, and its accreditation problems, I predict that it will be the first of these schools to close, probably by September 1, 2018.

Post-publication addendum: Marygrove College (Detroit, Michigan) announced that is eliminating all undergraduate programs in an effort to stay open.