Mass. AG Approves Sale Of Mount Ida Campus To UMass Amherst

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A car drives past the Mount Ida College sign on Carlson Avenue in Newton. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A car drives past the Mount Ida College sign on Carlson Avenue in Newton. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has approved the sale of Mount Ida College's Newton campus to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The sale closes Wednesday, the same day that the chairman of Mount Ida's Board of Trustees, Mount Ida officers, UMass President Marty Meehan and UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy are due to appear before a state Senate committee to explain the controversial sale.

In a letter to Mount Ida's attorneys, officials in Healey's office said: "We are deeply disappointed by [Mount Ida College's] decision to close its doors without a school closing plan and without appropriate notice to students, faculty, staff, and regulators."

Mount Ida had warned that it would have to file for bankruptcy Wednesday if the sale of the campus did not close.

Laurel Collins, a Mount Ida parent who founded a Facebook group for displaced parents and students, said it "is deeply disappointing that before even the Legislature has had a chance to hold a hearing [Wednesday] before the Post [and] Audit Oversight Committee, that Attorney General Healey would make such a decision."

The AG's office feared that if the sale didn't go through Wednesday, students would be left without options to continue their studies at other institutions.

"Your treatment of your own students is particularly upsetting and extremely unfair to them," wrote Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Green and Arwen Thoman, director of the Student Loan Assistance Unit.

Their letter said that once the sale goes through, the attorney general's office will review whether Mount Ida's senior administrators and its board violated their fiduciary duties in the way they addressed the college's financial condition and carried out its educational mission.

"Hundreds of students have had their education and future plans put in jeopardy, and many dedicated faculty and staff have lost their jobs," Healey said in a separate statement.

No one at Mount Ida could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Mount Ida would sell the entire campus, its intellectual property and its small endowment to UMass Amherst. In exchange, UMass Amherst will assume all of Mount Ida's debts, including paying faculty and staff prior to its closing.

The deal is valued at $86.5 million. UMass Amherst would pay $75 million. An unnamed Mount Ida creditor would forgive $11.5 million in debt.

Under the agreement:

  • Students in the Veterinary Technology program will be able to finish their studies on the Mount Ida campus in Newton. UMass Amherst will teach the program and provide housing, dining and other services.
  • Students in Dental Hygiene will continue their studies on the Mount Ida campus as well. UMass Amherst will lease space to Regis College, which will teach the program.
  • Students in Funeral Services will continue their studies at Cape Cod Community College.
  • Students in Interior Architecture and Design and Fashion Design will continue their studies at UMass Dartmouth.

UMass Dartmouth has agreed to accept all Mount Ida students in good academic standing.

UMass Amherst, UMass Dartmouth and UMass Lowell have agreed to waive all residency requirements for Mount Ida students, thus allowing them to complete their studies more quickly.

All UMass campuses have agreed to charge in-state tuition to Mount Ida students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States and who matriculate by Sept. 1.

"[Mount Ida College]'s abrupt closure has caused real harm to students and families, many of whom are still unsure of what to do," Green and Thoman said.

This article was originally published on May 15, 2018.

This segment aired on May 15, 2018.

Earlier Coverage:

Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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