A Small Art College Will Close

Oregon College of Art and Craft will stop degree programs at end of semester.

February 8, 2019
 

The Oregon College of Art and Craft announced late Thursday that it will cease all degree programs at the end of this academic term.

"While this was a difficult and painful decision, the board explored numerous options in hopes of continuing OCAC’s 112-year legacy, ultimately determining that closure is the only responsible option," said a statement from the board. "The board made this decision now to prioritize the well-being of students, faculty and staff, and fulfill its fiduciary obligations to the institution. In the board's best business judgment, a thoughtful and orderly closure process offers the best possible outcomes for all affected, and is therefore the right and only responsible thing to do."

The statement added, "The path to closure was paved with years of restructuring, none of which could sufficiently eradicate the rising costs of running a private arts college in the 21st century. Since the most recent financial recession, it has been difficult to sustain our high level of academic programming in the arts and, unfortunately, we are not alone in this struggle."

According to federal data, the college has 112 undergraduates.

Many free-standing art colleges, especially those with enrollments under 500, have struggled in recent years.

The college has been exploring merger options, but they fell through twice -- Portland State University in January announced that it would not continue discussions on a possible merger of the Oregon College of Art and Craft into the university. Portland State officials said a merger was "not financially feasible." The art college earlier tried to arrange a merger with the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Oregon College of Art and Craft is not unique in seeking merger or facing closure. The New Hampshire Institute of Art is in the midst of merging into New England College.

The Memphis College of Art announced in October 2017 that it would be closing and has laid out plans to shut down after graduating the last of its students in May 2020. The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston reached an agreement to have its educational operations acquired by Tufts University in 2016. The Art Institute of Boston, which merged with Lesley University in 1998, moved from Boston to Cambridge to join its sister colleges in 2015, taking on the new name of the Lesley University College of Art + Design along the way.

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