Chester College closing; NEC will accept students
CHESTER — Despite a frenetic, last-ditch fundraising campaign spearheaded by the students it served, Chester College is closing.
James Bennett, chairman of the Chester board of trustees, said Friday the board voted this week to close the school. A transition agreement for students and some staff with New England College was also announced Friday.
Students who attend Chester or who were accepted to start their studies next fall are enrolled automatically at New England College. In addition, some faculty from Chester will be offered one-year appointments to the NEC faculty.
“It's heartbreaking, we've put in all kinds of time and energy,” said Bennett, who has been involved with the school for the past decade.
Bennett said the school needed to attract 88 freshmen to the incoming Class of 2016 to remain viable, but fell 50 students short.
“The faculty, staff and students of New England College look forward to welcoming all students from Chester College into our academic community,” said NEC President Michele Perkins in statement.
Chester students, including the incoming class, can enroll at NEC at the same tuition and housing rates. Credits will transfer.
Chester's financial position became clear late in the academic year, when a potential deficit of as much as $3 million was revealed. The entire faculty voted no-confidence in Baines, but Bennett said the former Manchester mayor was not to blame for the school's demise.
“Bob took management control as president, put together a very professional team to recruit and market,” Bennett said. “With the economy, it just never came to fruition.”
Attorneys for Chester will handle the winding-down of the school's financial affairs. Bennett said donations in the 11th hour fund-raising campaign will be returned.
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