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Becker College In Worcester, Citing Financial Woes, Announces Plans To Close This Year

Becker College in Worcester, citing a shaky financial situation made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, has announced that it is closing permanently at the end of the current academic year.

The private school's trustees made the decision Sunday, the college posted on its website Monday.

"Particularly as a Becker alumna myself, this was an exceptionally painful decision for the board to come to, but one that followed many months of striving for a viable, sustainable, and responsible path to address the increasing financial pressures on our college," trustees chair Christine Cassidy said in the statement.

This year's graduation is scheduled for May, and the school will continue to provide academic support and transitional services to students through Aug. 31.

Enrollment fell in 2018 and 2019, and, in response, the school took measures to ease the financial strain, including renegotiating contracts with vendors, selling some assets, consolidating departments, and reducing staff and pay, the statement said. The school had fewer than 1,700 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled, according to its fall 2020 institutional profile.

The COVID-19 crisis made things worse through an "unanticipated and significant drop in the number of students," Becker said.

"This loss of revenue had a dramatic impact on the ability of the college to continue to maintain financial day-to-day college operations," the statement said.

Becker also looked at mergers that didn't pan out, Cassidy wrote.

In conjunction with Becker's announcement, Clark University said Monday it is establishing the Becker School of Design & Technology to house Becker's renowned game design program. Many of the program's faculty and students are expected to transition to Clark, also in Worcester.

Clark intends to operate the school in facilities at Becker's campus for at least a year.

Becker traces its roots to 1784 when Leicester Academy was founded. Becker's Business College was founded in 1887 and the two institutions merged in 1977, according to the school's website.

Several smaller colleges in Massachusetts have closed or merged in recent years. Mount Ida College in Newton closed in 2018 and its assets were bought by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Newbury College in Brookline closed in 2019.

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