Dowling College has reached agreements with Long Island University and five other colleges to accept its students as the struggling Oakdale institution continues to wind down its operations, officials have announced.
LIU, with campuses in Brookville and Brooklyn, is the lead institution to accept Dowling transfer students. Starting Thursday, that private college will be the repository of records, transcripts and other information for Dowling’s current and past students, officials said.
The announcement, in a news release Friday afternoon, broke weeks of silence from Dowling officials on students’ opportunities to continue their education.
The 48-year-old private college, saddled with $54 million in long-term debt, will lose its accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education on Aug. 31.
Dowling, which has campuses in Oakdale and Shirley, has not yet announced when it may shut down.
The school, in its statement Friday, said it had 1,200 to 1,300 students when the Philadelphia-based accrediting agency made its decision June 23.
Transition talks with LIU started two weeks ago as Dowling sought out a mix of colleges that would present students options, including online learning and majors, said Chad Shandler, Dowling’s chief restructuring officer and a partner in the Manhattan accounting firm CohnReznick.
“All of this was really done to try to create as soft a landing for our students as possible or as easy a transition for them to be able to continue their education,” Shandler said.
LIU officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.
“We are delighted to welcome Dowling College students to our university,” said Joseph Schaefer, chief of LIU administration and student affairs, in the statement that Dowling released Friday. “We feel confident that we can help Dowling students attain their college goals.”
The other five schools that Dowling has made pacts with are Farmingdale State College in East Farmingdale; St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue and Brooklyn; Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Queens; Empire State College, based in Saratoga Springs; and Excelsior College in Albany.
All the colleges “have agreed to work with Dowling to create a transfer program which will give Dowling students an opportunity to complete their degrees,” Dowling president Albert Inserra said in an email to students Friday.
The Oakdale campus will host transfer fairs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with LIU representatives. On Tuesday, the six colleges and their admissions counselors will participate, along with U.S. education officials who will answer questions about federal student aid, including loans, grants and work-study programs.
Students first scrambled to find alternatives after Dowling officials on May 31 announced plans to close and told 450-plus faculty and staff that June 1 was their final day of employment.
However, the college twice changed its date of closure and ultimately remained open, but with a bare-bones staff at the Oakdale campus.
The liberal arts college had mounted a futile, last-ditch effort to save itself with an investment by Global University Systems, an international education firm based in the United Kingdom.
Inserra — whose letter to students is posted on the college’s website — said LIU would accept students with at least 60 credits and good standing. They would pay Dowling’s 2015-16 tuition and student fees as they complete their degree at the Brookville campus. Those with fewer than 60 credits would be admitted at LIU’S discretion and pay LIU’S tuition and fees, he said.
The costs for the other colleges were not immediately available. Shandler said some had lower tuition than Dowling.
The biggest challenge in the transfer talks was getting someone to take decades of student records, Shandler said. Transcripts are all electronic, he said, but grades for students’ courses will have to be digitized.
Dowling will continue to exist as a legal entity after its academic dissolution, Shandler said.
Officials will have to take stock of its assets and determine how to dispose of its debt, he said.
The institution has been known for its education department, a unique aviation program and online business graduate degrees for working professionals.
Dependent on tuition dollars, the school experienced severe enrollment declines after the 2008 recession. In 2007, the school had a total of 5,834 students. By 2013, that number had dropped to 3,182, according to state Education Department records.
Dowling College released contact information for six colleges that have agreed to take its students as the institution prepares to shut down.
- Long Island University: Rita Langdon, Dowling-to-LIU Transfer Center, Post-Transfer@liu.edu, 516-299-2900.
- Vaughn College: Ernie Shepelsky, vice president of enrollment services, firstname.lastname@example.org, 718-429-6600, ext. 141.
- Farmingdale State College: Bahar Zoghi, acting assistant dean and acting chair of aviation, email@example.com, 631-420-2308 or 631-420-6292.
- St. Joseph’s College: Adriana Silva, senior associate director of admissions, firstname.lastname@example.org, 631-687-4528.
- Empire State College: Tai Arnold, interim vice provost for academic administration, email@example.com, 518-587-2100, ext. 2236.
- Excelsior College: Jill E. Terry, executive assistant to the president, 518-464-8524.