MANCHESTER — Citing declining student enrollment and a desire to focus on the growing popularity of online learning programs, officials with Mount Washington College announced on Wednesday a decision to close schools in Nashua and Salem and consolidate all student and faculty to their Manchester campus.
The closures will take effect before Sept. 9, the start of the 2014-15 school year, according to Stephen White, a spokesperson for Mount Washington College (formerly Hesser College) and the Kaplan Education group, which purchased Hesser in 2000.
“Mount Washington College has made the strategic decision to focus its time, attention and resources against a more concentrated academic portfolio, while also growing its low cost national online program,” said White. “As a result, it will stop enrolling new students in several programs within Allied Health and Arts and Sciences and close two campuses in Salem and Nashua by year’s end.”
White said students and faculty at the Salem campus, located at 11 Manor Parkway, and the Nashua campus, at 410 Amherst St., were notified of the decision Wednesday.
“Approximately 70 percent of students enrolled in the programs being taught out and discontinued should be able to complete their studies and programs before the end of the year,” said White. “Remaining students in these programs will have several different options to continue and complete their studies, including at the main campus in Manchester in the fall.”
According to White, the closures are expected to impact a total of 540 students — 340 at the Nashua campus, and another 200 in Salem. He said the closures will also result in an estimated 50 employee layoffs.
“It will initially impact staff members, but over time faculty could be affected as we teach-out and discontinue programs,” said White.
One employee, who spoke to the New Hampshire Union Leader on condition of anonymity, said she was notified Tuesday by phone that her job was being eliminated.
“I would say we had some idea it was coming, but it still hurts,” said the woman. “When I got home, there was a message from someone crying who lost their job too. I prepared for something like this, and took some extra jobs about a year ago, but I’m not sure everyone there is in the same position I am.”
White said officials at Kaplan aren’t worried about overcrowding at the Manchester campus, located at 3 Sundial Ave., as students from the two other sites enroll there. There are currently 550 students enrolled at the college in the Queen City.
“We have space available to accommodate them at the Manchester campus,” said White.
In August 2013, officials at Kaplan opted to close Mount Washington campuses in Portsmouth and Concord, resulting in 45 layoffs and the dislocation of approximately 380 students.
White said two open houses are scheduled for July 23 and 24, from 5-7 p.m. at the school’s Manchester campus, with staff members on hand to answer student questions about the changes.