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Ohio’s Urbana University to close due to low enrollment, challenges stemming from coronavirus pandemic

Physical campus will close as academic programming will shift to online through Franklin University.
Credit: Urbana University

URBANA, Ohio — Low enrollment and the global coronavirus pandemic have led to the close of Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, at the conclusion of the spring 2020 term.

The announcement was made by the university on Tuesday evening, saying, in part:

"Like many small rural campuses across the country, the Urbana University branch campus has experienced low enrollments for many years. Franklin University’s efforts to stabilize the Urbana campus have met with some success in recent years. However, the global coronavirus pandemic has added a level of stress and uncertainty to Urbana’s prospects that make it impossible to sustain, compelling Franklin University to discontinue physical operations on the Urbana branch campus effective after the Spring 2020 semester has ended. As a result of this decision, academic programming will be moved to Franklin University, while athletic offerings and on-site administrative roles will cease at the Urbana branch campus."

Located in Urbana, Ohio, the private university specializing in liberal arts education will close its physical campus, shifting academic programming online through Franklin University.

The Urbana University branch campus currently serves 1,254 students. Of that student population, 75% (940 students) are enrolled in the College Credit Plus program, the Post-Baccalaureate Education program, the MBA-Healthcare program, and the London Correctional Institute program. Those students will continue their studies uninterrupted and unchanged the university announced, as their instruction does not occur on the Urbana campus. 

The remaining 25% of Urbana’s total student population (350 students) consists of residential and commuter students who are now finishing the spring semester online as directed by Gov. Mike DeWine's guidelines. These students will be able to complete their academic programs online through Franklin University. 

Cleveland State University men's basketball assistant coach Rob Summers shared an emotional tweet about the university closing below. Summers was a former head coach of the Blue Knights men's basketball team.

Students who prefer to transfer to other institutions will be assisted in doing so.

Franklin University President David Becker said: 

"Our highest priority is to ensure students experience a seamless transition of their academic studies and that our branch campus employees have the resources to make their transition as well. As institutions of higher education across the country struggle to identify ways to stay open, we will do all we can to help students identify the best alternative forward to fulfill their education goals in an affordable manner."

Urbana University CEO Christopher Washington also released a video message after the closure was announced:

Urbana’s 128-acre residential campus, nestled in the heart of Ohio, provided a background for students actively engaged in campus activities through 20 student-led academic, professional, performing arts, social and service organizations. Blue Knights athletics includes 17 NCAA Division II sports and three intercollegiate club sports.

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