Franklin University, a private institution in Columbus, Ohio, is planning to buy Urbana University, a smaller private college about an hour away.
Urbana, which reported operating losses and significant debt in recent years has about 1,800 students , including about 400 who live on campus. Franklin is a commuter college with what it says are nearly 10,000 students.
According to Urbana's most recent publicly available tax filing , it’s been losing money each year – its $24.5 million in expenses were $570,000 more than its revenue in 2012 – and has about $18 million in liabilities from bonds, mortgages and bank notes.
Christi Cabungcal, Franklin’s chief of staff, said her institution likes Urbana's assets, including its campus. Franklin, she said, has developed an international, nontraditional and online market in the past few years, and is now aiming to take advantage of Urbana’s more traditional student population. Franklin is acquiring Urbana’s assets but will not say what it is doing with the debt or even confirm Urbana’s current liabilities.
She said Urbana will operate as a subsidiary of Franklin and continue to issues degrees bearing with Urbana name. Franklin said in the near term it plans to keep Urbana’s sports teams. Franklin didn’t announce changes to Urbana's programs, personnel, salary and benefits or tuition – but reserves the right to in the future.
“We have no immediate plans to go in and make any dramatic changes to programs or to staffing,” Cabungcal said.
Urbana officials did not respond to an email seeking comment.