By Zachary Wright
Roosevelt University is looking into potentially merging with another private school within the next five to 10 years, according to Provost Lois Becker and SGA President Brandon Glynn.
At a SGA Senate meeting held on Thursday, Sept. 27, Glynn said President Ali briefly commented about potentially merging with another university. Glynn said the school would have to be a private and non-religious school. Furthermore, the school would take the Roosevelt name.
“To literally merge with another university, it’s a five to ten year process,” Provost Becker said. “First of all, there’s all this, let’s say if you move the university or had all the plans like what provost would move where, you’d have to go through the Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission – that’s the regional accreditor for the Midwest – and you’d have to go through the Illinois Board of Higher Ed,” said Provost Becker, commenting that process alone would take up to two to three years.
Currently, it is not yet known what university would take the Roosevelt name. “Really, at this point, all we’re doing is talking about it and thinking about it,” Provost Becker said. “It wouldn’t be a public, it would be a private. It would have the same mission as Roosevelt, so it would be non-religious. It would take the Roosevelt name,” said Provost Becker, commenting the Roosevelt name is valuable, not just in Chicago, but across the world.
Plans for the merge are still in the very early stages. Provost Becker said merging with another university could start as sharing a residence facility, similar to the University Center or sharing certain services. “Something that could be far less than immersion, we could look into that – something that the board could say we can go ahead and do that,” Provost Becker said.
“The full merger, it would be down the road. It’s in the context in a lot of schools merging,” Provost Becker said. Roosevelt would not be the first university in the Chicago area to go ahead with this process. University of Illinois at Chicago recently acquired John Marshall Law School over this past summer. In bigger schools, Purdue University acquired the online university mogul Kaplan University to allow students to attend online in 2017. “There are certain efficiencies of scale we could get. We’re ways off,” Provost Becker said.
Currently, all students attending Roosevelt would not be directly affected by the merger. “What it would probably do is bring in more programs,” said Provost Becker, stating there may be new programs that could be offered to RU students in the future.
Senior political science major and SAFAC chair Jonathan Talley asked Provost Becker if merging affects degree plans for current students. “Things that were already issued, what your degree plans are now – that’s going to stay the same,” said Provost Becker, meaning degrees already earned by alumni will not change, nor would it change for the next few classes that are graduating.
The decision to start looking into merging with a school has been brought up 10 years ago with National Louis University, but that plan fell through and never took off the ground.
Provost Becker said many schools, in spite of size, are looking to merge within the next decade or so due to the predicted decline in high schoolers graduating. However, Provost Becker said this steps is to “stay ahead of the game” and keep the school open for the next 100 years.
“There is a declining rate of high school graduates in Illinois in general, as well as a large number of schools vying for the same students, ” SGA President Glynn said.
According to a study released by the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Ed, the number of expected high school graduates is expected to drop and plateau in the decade of 2020. In the state of Illinois, the number of high school graduates is expected to drop by a few thousand starting the next decade. Currently, the report released by WICHE stated there are approximately 65,000 seniors registered in an Illinois high school, but in 2029, it is expected to drop to a little over 57,000.
“The thing is, there are a lot of smaller schools that just aren’t going to make it,” Provost Becker said. “The demographics are going down.”
“In higher ed, they are talking a lot about mergers. So, it is partially how to figure out how to stay ahead of the game, to be at the size where we know this university will be around for the next hundred years,” Provost Becker said. “It is not out of the sense of any panic or urgency. It’s just we need to look at our options.”