The University of New Haven will stop offering degree-granting academic programs at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts after the academic year closes in May 2019, it announced Tuesday, ending a partnership after five years.
The two institutions reached an affiliation agreement in 2014. Lyme kept its own Board of Trustees and ownership of its campus under the deal, while New Haven took ownership of academic degree programs. At the time, the university touted adding Lyme’s bachelor of fine arts program. Meanwhile, Lyme was said to be gaining access to more liberal arts courses and art programs after facing challenges with finances, enrollment and accreditation.
But Lyme continued to struggle with enrollment in the years since, only counting 139 students as of the fall of 2017. In contrast, New Haven’s main campus about 40 miles away in West Haven enrolled almost 6,800. The university counts 122 Lyme students as of today.
New Haven leaders thought an infusion of resources plus Lyme’s reputation would build “a foundation for enduring success,” said Steven H. Kaplan, president of the university, in a statement.
“Candidly, with the benefit of hindsight, that decision was made more with our hearts than our heads,” he said. “We worried more about supporting important educational needs and not enough about the market demand for a very small, rural art college. Continuing to do so would simply be irresponsible.”
The university will move a bachelor of fine arts in illustration program from Lyme to its flagship West Haven campus. Options are being considered for students in other Lyme programs. They could include switching to other majors offered at West Haven or continuing their education through an articulation agreement with the University of Hartford.
Lyme’s board now plans to consider turning the campus back into a non-degree-granting art academy.