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.
The Urbana University branch campus currently serves 1,254 students. Of this 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. These students will continue their studies uninterrupted and unchanged, 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 the Governor’s guidelines. These students will be able to complete their academic programs online through Franklin University. Students who prefer to transfer to other institutions will be assisted in doing so. For students in the final stages of their studies, a flexible “teach out plan” (a plan for the completion of their academic program) will be developed.
As a consequence of this decision, 111 full-time employees on the Urbana campus will be affected by the closure. A number of full-time employees who work at the branch campus will be offered employment at Franklin University. Those who will not continue at Franklin will be offered severance packages that include outplacement assistance to help with this difficult transition.
“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,” said Dr. David Decker, President, Franklin University. “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.”
As an early adopter of online learning, Franklin’s online expertise and teaching effectiveness provides students with a path to complete a quality education at an affordable tuition rate. Students enrolled in academic programs offered through Franklin University will benefit from the University’s reduced tuition rate of $398 per credit hour. Also, making the decision at the end of the regular academic year while all students have left campus for remote study allows time for students to transition to Franklin University, or if they choose, to transfer to other programs without disruption to their education timeline.
The focus over the coming weeks will be to provide support for our students and employees as we implement this transition.