Questions and Answers about the Marlboro / University of Bridgeport Merger
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Why is Marlboro partnering with another college?
Marlboro has always been a unique place and throughout its history has frequently encountered and overcome challenges. In considering the college’s position given changing demographics, program demands, operational costs, the national higher education landscape, and projections of the next few years, the Board of Trustees determined that it would be in the college’s best interest to identify a partner rather than risk continuing operations as a stand-alone institution in a very uncertain time. A partnership was the most viable option in terms of continuing the Marlboro experience without sacrificing our college’s integrity, which is why the college considered over a hundred potential partners and had many meaningful conversations with interested parties before finding a good match with the University of Bridgeport.
When did conversations about a merger begin?
Since we launched the Reimagining Marlboro project last year, the Board of Trustees and leadership team of the college has explored a variety of options to combat declining enrollment and financial challenges. The Board of Trustees created the Strategic Options Task Force, a group of college leadership, faculty, staff and a student representative, to develop a plan that would position us for success. We sought out potential partners for a merger and found the best fit with the University of Bridgeport. During that process, we kept students, faculty, and staff as aware as possible because transparency is of the utmost importance to us.
What will happen to the Marlboro College experience?
The Marlboro College experience will continue and, in some cases, expand to the students from UB who will have the opportunity to experience it for the first time. Marlboro’s mission and vision complement the University of Bridgeport’s, which is why this partnership makes sense.
What benefits does this partnership provide students from both campuses?
There are many things to appreciate in a potential Marlboro/UB merger, in particular the way the two institutions together bridge big and small, rural and urban, liberal arts and professional studies, all the while demonstrating an enduring commitment to Marlboro’s educational mission and further solidifying Bridgeport’s long history of excellence in career preparedness and serving first-generation students. Complementing Marlboro’s rural Vermont location, the Bridgeport campus sits on 60 acres of shoreline on Long Island Sound, offering another community and ecosystem for students to explore while also providing opportunities in more than 25 professional fields. Additionally, University of Bridgeport is known for their ethnically diverse student body and large international student population, both of which will enrich the student experience at Marlboro.
What does this mean for alumni who have graduated from Marlboro in terms of their diplomas and transcripts?
For Marlboro College graduates, their diploma will still read Marlboro College, and their transcripts remain available as they’ve always been. Alumni can continue to be proud of their accomplishment and excited about the future of their alma mater.
Who has to approve the partnership for it to take place?
Both Boards of Trustees from Marlboro and University of Bridgeport must approve of the merger before it moves forward.
Whose decision was it to partner with the University of Bridgeport? Were current students involved in the decision?
The Strategic Options Task Force established by the Board of Trustees included senior leadership, faculty, staff and a student representative to explore potential partners. In the end, this is a Board of Trustees decision.
Why was the University of Bridgeport selected as a partner? Did they approach Marlboro or was it the other way around?
As it turns out, UB had already approached Marlboro about finding ways to collaborate early last year, completely independent of our own process to find a strategic partner. UB submitted a partnership proposal as part of the process shepherded by our consultants from EY-Parthenon. MC held a number of meaningful conversations with different colleges and ultimately sought out a partnership with UB because its mission, vision and values complement MC’s in a way that is unique, optimal, and positions both schools for success. The liberal arts focus at both schools position students to explore their talents in a creative manner.
How will this partnership impact the student experience?
In the broad sense, this move is one that will benefit all students by expanding academic offerings in two diverse ecosystems and provide an outstanding mix of liberal arts and professional instruction in two very distinct settings. MC and UB are aligned in their commitment to sharing the same values of sustainability and social responsibility whether urban or rural, oceanside or mountaintop. While MC has a history of excellence in the humanities that will help UB students, MC students will benefit from UB’s technological strengths.
How does the partnership impact students who are enrolling this year or are considering enrollment in the near future?
Students should feel free to enroll at Marlboro with no reservations. Marlboro will continue to offer a self-directed liberal arts curriculum. In fact, there will be many more opportunities available to students on both campuses.
Will Marlboro students have full access to the programs and facilities of the University of Bridgeport?
Yes - one of the reasons we are excited about this merger is that our students will have the opportunity to explore an urban campus in a dynamic city. They will also be able to take advantage of the many academic resources at the University of Bridgeport, such as its STEM offerings, professional programs and a new Innovation Center.
Will University of Bridgeport students be coming up to reside and/or study on Marlboro College’s campus? If so, how many?
Just as we are excited about Marlboro students having the chance to study in Bridgeport, we can expect to welcome many new students to campus from Bridgeport.
What voice will Marlboro College students, alumni, and board members have in the governance of the larger University of Bridgeport administration?
Marlboro College students and alumni will be full and equal members of the University of Bridgeport community, and your voices will be an important influence on the direction of the school in the years to come. In addition, five members of the Marlboro College Board of Trustees will join the University of Bridgeport’s Board of Trustees, and a Marlboro College committee will be created, chaired by a Marlboro Trustee, which ensures a Marlboro College perspective will be heard at the highest level of direction for the overall university system.
What is the relationship between the Unification Church and the University of Bridgeport?
Founded in 1927, the University of Bridgeport has a long history as a private secular institution. The college severed ties with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification church, otherwise known as “the Moonies.” During the 1990’s UB took a sizable loan from the church and allocated some seats on its board to representatives from the organization. The loan has been forgiven, and seats rescinded on the board.
If the partnership is approved, when will it go into effect?
It is still too early to specify exactly when the merger would take place. However, we are committed to making sure it happens along a timeframe fully transparent to Marlboro College and University of Bridgeport students, faculty, and alumni.