Boston University could take over Wheelock College

The two schools announced today they have started merger negotiations on how to make the 1,000-student college a part of the 33,000-student research university.

The campuses of the two institutions are less than one mile apart. Both schools have historically strong ties to the Boston Public School system and to the City of Boston.

Over the upcoming weeks, the leadership of Boston University and Wheelock College will be working with our faculties and our academic and administrative leaders to shape the vision of our merged academic units and services. We believe the merger will enhance Boston University's programs, as well as preserve the mission of Wheelock College to improve the lives of children and families.



    Free tagging: 


    Land Grab

    The thing that ate Audubon Circle crosses the Muddy River.

    I was in the last single family (row) house on Buswell Street before BU bought it back in 1995. It felt like another Boston neighborhood was killed off by the academics. Buswell Street and Bay State Road feel soulless sometimes. No wonder Brookline fights them tooth and nail. At least you feel like you are somewhere when you don't have a blue emergency box on the front porch.

    On the upside, won't this mean that BU now has a student theatre space other than The Huntington?

    The Thing Next To The Oldsmobile Dealership?

    Sorry, I did not know that the school that is being kept afloat with Mainland Chinese money (13.6% of overall students being from China with BU being 27% foreign students overall!) was using that as a theatre.

    I thought it was a garage for all of the rich students that drive over from the Ritz in the morning in their Porsches and souped up Audis while they go to "school".

    Sorry, about my bias. I got into BU, never wanted to go there, lived in a BU frat for a summer for cheap housing and my distaste of the school which only has Boston in the name as a token has kept up since.

    Yeah, OK

    So you know nothing about the school other then you lived in a non-BU owned Frat for a summer and a minority of students are Chinese? How insightful.

    FYI: 30% of MIT is foreign and of that 24% is Chinese. Every large private university in the US is similar. Maybe you should only buy American if it bugs you so much.

    I know a lot of BU students and grads. They are smart, good people. The school isn't what it was 20-30 years ago. Things change, even in Boston.

    Wait wait wait, I'm still

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    Wait wait wait, I'm still stuck on why it's bad for schools to have foreign students. It seems pretty great to me. I once went to some BU guy's apartment (admittedly awhile back) and there were kids from 12 different countries hanging out there. It was awesome! And given your fancypants spelling of theater, can we assume that you're a foreigner yourself?

    And now that I am moving into the meat of this thing, is your distaste for BU really just based on your experience couch surfing for a summer at a frat at a school you did not attend? And why is "school" in quotes? And aren't most college student rich? I am so intrigued by all of this!

    Foreign undergraduate

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    Foreign undergraduate students are usually wealthy, because they are ineligble for need-based financial aid. With wealth comes privilege.

    It's somewhat different for graduate students, because graduate school funding is determined by merit, not by need, and foreign graduate students are eligible for most merit based funding.

    Getting your schools mixed up there?

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    the school which only has Boston in the name as a token

    I think you might be mistaking BU for Boston College ("not in Boston, not a college"). Boston University has been in and a part of Boston for almost 150 years.

    BU is not being evil

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    Keeping a college with only 1000 students alive these days is nearly impossible. Consolidation among colleges is happening and it's better than just going belly up.

    Fenway Schools

    The MFA school joined Tufts not too long ago. The College of Art & Design joined Lesley. NEC Boston Conservatory joined Berklee.

    Economy of scale matters for schools.


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    It's Boston Conservatory that merged with Berklee.


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    plz use lol-quotes to describe the acquisition, er I mean "merger"

    Our sympathies Wheelock. Youo're well and truly fucked, no matter what happens.

    art schools

    Art Institute of Boston is the school that joined Lesley. New England School of Art and Design joined Suffolk.

    Also, Longy School of Music joined far-off Bard College (but remained where it was in Cambridge).

    Imagine BU taking over Simmons School of Library & Info Science.

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    Imagine Boston University or Northeastern University or University of Massachusetts Boston taking over Simmons College or Simmons School of Library and Information Science. That would greatly improve the School's program and make it more accessible for folks limited by their budgets.

    Years ago Columbia University School of Library Service just closed or got merged with another school, maybe an old Librarian out there will recall more details...

    Before the Columbia University library studies program closed advocates in Massachusetts attempted an accredited Public Librarian program at University of Massachusetts Boston and/or Northeastern. At a State House Hearing Simmons argued against, viewing an alternative as competition. University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies was prepared to set up a satellite program in Massachusetts.

    Oh look, it's theszak's usual

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    Oh look, it's theszak's usual Simmons SLIS hating bandwagon. Why would either of these schools take in a program they don't already have, that's very successful at its own institution? Also, it's naive to believe that a graduate program at BU or Northeastern would be cheaper than another private college in the city.

    This actually sounds reasonable

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    BU has a very strong education program, but compared to the rest of the school, it is an incredibly small program. It has two small buildings fronting Comm Ave that were joined by renovation, and therefore each floor is split in a weird half because the original buildings were not level with each other.

    There's also very minimal room in the building for any programs that directly serve children: though I'm not sure what they currently offer, when I graduated there was a small lab preschool and not much else, maybe some individual evaluation or tutoring programs. A bigger building could expand the preschool and other programming in house, so the students get more hands on experience without having to travel and so the children in the community have access to more slots.

    I'm not a fan of BU taking a proper campus, instead of one that's street-centric: I think going to school on a public street encourages students to integrate more into adulthood. But it would allow BU to expand its footprint, without taking any more land off the tax rolls, which is great for everyone.

    Very hard times for small private colleges.

    A friend of mine works in higher ed tech research, which projects many more closings and consolidations in the coming years.

    An expensive four-year degree isn't the ticket to upward mobility that it once was, federal and state aid is way, way down, tuition / room / board is much costlier, and many families in our hollowed-out middle class are questioning the value of taking on the necessary staggering debt these days.

    I know a lot of well-educated millennials who are scraping by with gig-economy jobs, scant professional prospects in sight. It's a good time to be a highly-skilled coder, but if you don't have the knack for that, what do you do? So many jobs that a liberal-arts education once paved the way for a long, decent-paying career are being automated away.

    I'd love to see our education system revamped like Germany's to in part support a highly-skilled manufacturing base, but we appear to be racing backwards fast on that score under Trump, unless you believe diverting tax dollars to support Christian Taliban schools teaching Creationism is somehow the answer.

    Maybe there's a future in robot maintenance, but robots will probably do that job more efficiently, too. Too bad it's a fallen world.

    Object to the Merger

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    BU is a word class highly rated university, its not Harvard or Ivy League but rated right below that, Wheelock on the other hand is not a highly rated school, Wheelock college accepts 95% of applicants with average SAT scores in the 400s. Many of Wheelocks students were in the bottom half of their high school class. Could such students even be successful at BU. BU should not merge with a lower ranked school as it will lower BUs overall standing

    On the other hand

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    Could Wheelock be an adjunct to the College of General Studies?

    I don't think the 1,000 Wheelock students will affect BU's rankings. If anything, I'd worry for those who would have attended Wheelock otherwise, which is why I am a bit skittish about this.

    the standards to get into BU

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    the standards to get into BU's CGS are a lot more stringent than those to get into wheelock.

    Wheelock Students get Wheelock degrees

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    I'm an alumnus of BU and I would expect that current Wheelock students would earn a Wheelock degree. Perhaps freshmen could be offered the option of getting a Boston University degree if they appear to be qualified to do the work. There is also the option of enrolling those freshmen who are not qualified but who want to get a BU degree in the College of General Studies.

    BU must do a cost-benefit on this one

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    Aside from the ridiculous notion that this would be a "merger," the proposal might have some merit if:
    1. BU can acquire some decent real estate near its main campus
    2. Current Wheelock students can finish their degrees (and maybe the degree will say BU, for the 600 or so lucky ones who are there now.)

    On the other hand:
    1. Wheelock has been in dire straits financially for years - what kind of debt does it bring to the table and who is responsible for it after a "merger?"
    2. Wheelock is currently embroiled in multiple lawsuits; who assumes the liability for those?
    3. Wheelock has some crackpot/less than stellar faculty members with tenure (not naming names); how does BU incorporate these folks without compromising the overall academic quality? And how will students from Wheelock meet the academic standards of BU?

    My guess would be

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    they will keep Wheelock mostly intact for the four years it takes for the last admitted class to earn a diploma. Then, they'll stop admitting Wheelock students altogether and phase out/merge the parts of the school that are being left behind (like the freshman orientation department can go once there are no new students arriving.) Interestingly, BU recently declared a mission to admit fewer students to their freshman class: they want to cap incoming classes to 3,000 instead of the 4,000-5,000 that the school was holding at the last 10-15 years.

    Probably as part of the merger, departments at BU that could use expanding or broadening will be expanded as needed using Wheelock resources. Anyone who's not needed, or not up to the task, will be excessed and laid off. Probably some of the professors who are acceptable but subpar compared to their BU colleagues will be shunted into doing gruntwork, like 100-level required classes that the professors with more clout always get out of teaching.

    BU did an internal reorganization in 2009-2011 that resulted in the merger/elimination of a bunch of internal nonacademic departments, so they already have a template for doing this.

    If I ran the zoo that is B.U.

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    ...the answers to your questions would be:

    1. Wheelock has been in dire straits financially for years - what kind of debt does it bring to the table and who is responsible for it after a "merger?"

    I'd buy Wheelock's assets only, assuming none of its debts or other obligations.

    2. Wheelock is currently embroiled in multiple lawsuits; who assumes the liability for those?

    See above.

    3. Wheelock has some crackpot/less than stellar faculty members with tenure (not naming names); how does BU incorporate these folks without compromising the overall academic quality?

    I'd make employment offers to any Wheelock employees whom I wanted to hire, and leave the rest to be laid off.

    And how will students from Wheelock meet the academic standards of BU?

    I would entertain transfer applications from any Wheelock student who thinks he or she could meet B.U.'s standards, but assume no obligation to admit any student from Wheelock.