Report Details Newbury Official’s Misleading Preclosure Statements

December 19, 2018

When Newbury College last week announced plans to close at the end of the spring semester, the early notice drew favorable comparisons to the case of another Boston-area college, Mount Ida College, which collapsed in quick and painful fashion earlier this year.

But Newbury’s president is now apologizing after The Boston Globe reported his college recruited Mount Ida students who were seeking to transfer elsewhere -- incorrectly telling at least one prospect that Newbury was financially strong.

The student in question was seeking her third college in three semesters after attending the University of New England in Maine, deciding it was too far from home, and then transferring to Mount Ida. In the process of deciding to transfer from the closing Mount Ida to Newbury, she asked an employee in Newbury’s admissions office about the college’s financial situation.

“The short answer is that Newbury is doing well financially and there is no plan of merger or closure anytime soon,” the employee responded in an April email that the Globe reviewed. “Newbury carries almost no debt at all, which allows us to operate comfortably even though we are a smaller school.”

Newbury’s president, Joseph L. Chillo, apologized in a statement Monday, saying he took full responsibility for the correspondence. The email mischaracterized Newbury’s financial situation, Chillo said. When the email was written, the admissions office had only been told that the college was experiencing increases in inquiries, applications, acceptances, deposits and housing demand.

In fact, Chillo had already told the Globe in March that the college was facing declining enrollment and a 10 percent budget shortfall.

The Boston newspaper also detailed several other steps Newbury took to try to keep its doors open. It sold buildings on campus and worked on a real estate deal with Global University Systems, a United Kingdom-based for-profit education company. Newbury had reached a memorandum of understanding with the company that would have addressed its accreditor’s concerns about the struggling college’s finances, kept it at its current location, removed its debts, given it a large endowment and allowed its trustees and administration to keep control, according to Chillo.

He did not provide a reason for the deal falling apart. The Massachusetts attorney general’s office, which oversees charitable organizations and would have had say in any deal, asked Global University Systems questions and ultimately was told the company wasn’t pursuing the arrangement any longer.

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


+ -

Expand commentsHide comments  —   Join the conversation!

Opinions on Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U

Back to Top