The Future of Small Colleges

May 12, 2016

To the Editor:  Re “Small Colleges Are Pressured Over Finances” (front page, April 30):

The resiliency of America’s small private colleges is frequently misunderstood. Many persevere year after year, meeting the higher education needs of the country and their region, while operating on the slimmest of financial margins.\

For more than a century, experts have been writing off the future of these colleges because of changes in demographics, advances in technology and a dearth of financial resources. Yet many manage to persevere through innovation, perspiration and dedication.In fact, of the 1,640 private, nonprofit institutions in the United States, only 33 have closed over the last 20 years.

At the same time, the private college sector is the only higher education sector to grow in each of the last 10 years.Smart administrators and faculty have remade colleges to better serve the educational needs of a changing market; have worked together to recruit students, contain costs and generate revenue; and have secured necessary financial support from alumni and philanthropists supportive of their mission and legacy.

A mastery of legacy, loyalty, mission and market is often the most powerful force in determining the future of a small private college. While these are challenging times for all of higher education, I caution against prematurely writing off any of these institutions.

National Associationof Independent Colleges & UniversitiesWashington

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