Before COVID-19 it was expected that many financially strapped colleges would merge or close in the next few years. Researchers at Forbes recently ranked private colleges on fiscal soundness. Only one C&MA college ranked in the top half (Toccoa Falls). Alarmingly, two C&MA colleges ranked quite low (Simpson University – lowest 11% and Nyack University lowest 5%). The COVID-19 is likely to worsen the financial situation of all universities – especially those with weak financial positions.
Most colleges went on-line in the middle of March closing dorms and sending students home. Generally, universities gave students a partial refund on unused room-and-board. Cash-strapped Simpson is one of the few universities that did not offer a refund. It is not hard to imagine how refusing to refund unused room-and-board charges will negatively impact Simpson’s enrollment this fall and its reputation for fairness. This comes after Simpson was put on accreditation probation due to financial (and other) problems in 2017 (they are no longer on probation).
The pandemic will hit Nyack particularly hard. With its move to Manhattan, Nyack is situated in one of the most affected COVID-19 locations. It is hard to imagine that many new students will enroll this fall and choose to move to Nyack’s new dorms located across the Hudson River in New Jersey.
Hence, it is likely that either Nyack and/or Simpson may be forced by a financial crisis to merge or close very soon.
Now is the time to contemplate if these two universities continue to further the mission of the C&MA and the cause of Christ. If so, they will likely need millions of dollars in assistance. If not, then our denomination should reconsider our affiliation with these colleges.