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Facing ongoing crises, Bay State College gets new leadership

The logo of Bay State College on a wall inside the Back Bay campus.
The logo of Bay State College on a wall inside the Back Bay campus. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Jeff Mason, a 27-year administrator at Bay State College and its interim president since March 2022, resigned from his post earlier this week, per an email sent to students and staff that was obtained by WBUR.

That development is just the latest shock to the small for-profit institution, which is set to lose its accreditation on August 31, following years of declining enrollment and financial troubles.

College leaders said in a statement Friday that Mason’s resignation was “voluntary and for personal reasons,” and declined to share further information.

The Bay State board named Kevin Derrivan as new acting interim president, according to the email to students and staff.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Derrivan has served as chief financial officer of both Bay State College and Ambow Education USA since Dec. 2020. Ambow Education is Bay State College’s China-based holding company – it purchased the 77-year-old college in 2017.

The leadership shift comes as the Back Bay institution has turned a corner in what had been a worrying real estate dispute.

College leaders said Friday they have negotiated a settlement with their landlord, OMV Park Square, regarding over $720,000 in unpaid rent. In a statement, they wrote “both parties have reached a signed agreement through [August 31] and the complaint has been withdrawn.”

Bay State was facing possible eviction from its space on the second floor of a Back Bay high-rise, and a trial on the matter had been scheduled for April 12 in Boston Municipal Court.

In the email, the board wrote that staff are working with the state’s Department of Higher Education to “ensure that any students who will not be graduating by August 31 will have multiple transfer options in the event of closure.”

It also laid out three priority areas for Derrivan’s tenure: among them, “to maintain the College’s high-caliber education for each current student through August” and help facilitate those transfers.

Derrivan is also charged with exploring potential partnerships with other institutions, “particularly with respect to [Bay State’s] exceptional nursing programs,” the email says.

It is not yet clear whether there are parties interested in acquiring all or part of Bay State’s programs.

In January, Lawrence Schall, the president of the New England Commission of Higher Education, Bay State’s accreditor, suggested to WBUR that, in general, New England's colleges are likelier to merge than to close, given the region's many institutions of higher education and their “entrepreneurial” nature.

Finally, the college said Derrivan and a staff task force will “initiate outplacement assistance programs” in the coming weeks for Bay State staff seeking future employment.

Related:

Headshot of Max Larkin

Max Larkin Reporter, Education
Max Larkin was an education reporter for WBUR.

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