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University of the Arts in Philadelphia to Shut Down After Accreditor Pulls Recognition

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The University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia has announced late Friday that it will permanently close its doors on June 7th. The news comes after the Middle States Commission on Higher Education withdrew the private art school’s accreditation, citing UArts’ failure “to inform the commission of closure in a timely manner.”

In a terse letter to the campus community, UArts President Kerry Walk and Board Chair Judson Aaron acknowledged the university has faced significant financial struggles for years due to declining enrollments and rising costs. However, they revealed an unexpected cash crunch made keeping the 146-year-old institution operational untenable.

“Despite swift action, we were unable to bridge the necessary gaps,” their letter stated. “We know that the news of UArts’ closure comes as a shock.”

The Middle States accrediting body released its own letter outlining how the University of the Arts violated policies by not properly preparing a closure plan and informing the commission ahead of time about its dire situation. As a result, the accreditor said it had “no choice” but to immediately revoke the university’s accreditation.

Losing accredited status is a potential death knell for any college or university. Without it, students cannot receive federal financial aid, their credits may not transfer, and they cannot pursue certain professional certifications or licensures.

While the school’s leadership did not provide many details, the shutdown seems to have unfolded rapidly in the past week or so based on the accreditor’s assertion it was given no advanced notice. On Sunday, the Board of Trustees affirmed their vote to cease operations could not be avoided despite efforts to identify “a viable path” to remain open.

The abrupt closure leaves the fates of UArts’ current students, faculty, and staff extremely uncertain in the middle of the summer semester. Some institutions in the Philadelphia area have already begun offering potential transfer pathways, like nearby Drexel University announcing expanded tuition discounts for impacted UArts students.

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