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Merger Across State Lines
Montreat and Point -- both Christian colleges -- announce plans to combine operations under the Point name. Online reaction from Montreat alumni is swift and negative.
Point University and Montreat College on Monday announced plans to merge -- and some Montreat alumni were quick to go online to express outrage.
The announcement of the merger plans noted commonalities between the two institutions, both of which stress their Christian values, and share both an accreditor and an athletic conference. But they are also located in different states (Point in Georgia and Montreat in North Carolina), and details were sparse about exactly how the combined institution would operate.
The announcement said that the combined institution would be called Point University, but that the Montreat name would continue to refer to the North Carolina campus. The announcement said that the combination would give Montreat the opportunity to expand into the Georgia market, and that students enrolled for 2013-14 are assured of "an uninterrupted college experience."
Currently Montreat enrolls 858 students, while Point enrolls 1,400. Point is an institution unafraid of change, having switched its name and location just last year when it moved from Atlanta to the Alabama border and changed its name from Atlanta Christian College. Many experts have been predicting more mergers among colleges that lack large endowments or large enrollments. This month, two other Christian colleges -- Johnson University and Florida Christian College -- merged. This merger also crossed state lines, since Johnson is in Tennessee.
"If this merger goes through, the merged institution, driven by our common vision, will be uniquely positioned to expand program offerings while cost-effectively using our resources to benefit our student body. We are optimistic about this possibility and believe this to be the best way to continue growing. Additionally, the boards of trustees believe this to be something the Lord has ordained, as His hand has clearly been on this process from the beginning," said the joint statement.
A spokeswoman for Point said that officials would not be answering questions.
On the Montreat Facebook page, a few negative posts led to a suggestion that Montreat supporters should post their objections on the Point Facebook page so that officials there would realize that Montreat did not want to be absorbed. And the Montreat alumni then did just that.
Among the comments: "Please do not allow this merger to go forward! Montreat is a unique school with a unique history, and it deserves to keep that. Money shouldn't guide everything in life," and "BIG DISLIKE! The alumni of MONTREAT want the college to stay the same. We did not graduate from Point University and do not want Montreat to become Point University. The feelings of those who dearly love Montreat are not being considered in this. Leave Montreat alone!" and "My alumni donations will cease immediately if this merger goes through. I do not agree to this merger. The BofT have stabbed the alumni in the back. They have freely taken our donations when we worked together as partners (I thought) to save our beloved Montreat as the college that we have honored & supported over the years. I will not support the point. What is the Point of all this?"
Many of the alumni seemed shocked that the idea of a merger could even be under consideration.
Others, however, clicked "like" on the announcement notices on the colleges' Facebook pages. One Montreat alumna indicated that she understood the move.
"I fully support the merger," she wrote. "I think this is a step in a positive direction and will open doors to students that Montreat could not afford to do. I have memories of my time at Montreat and I think it would be disservice to present and future students to see Montreat close instead of merging with another institution fully capable of helping a struggling institution."
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