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June 14, 2024

UArts students get few answers about school's closing during virtual meeting hosted by accreditor

No university officials were present at the webinar, where financial aid and transfer options were discussed.

Education University of the Arts
UArts virtual meeting Chris Compendio/PhillyVoice

In a virtual meeting with officials from federal and state education agencies, students asked questions about the circumstances that led to the closure of the University of the Arts.

The accreditor for the University of the Arts gave displaced students the opportunity to ask officials from federal and state education agencies questions during a virtual meeting Friday morning, a week after the school officially closed.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) hosted the webinar, and topics included financial aid and transferring to other schools.

No officials from UArts were present, with the institution sending a representative from Alvarez and Marsal, the consulting firm employed by the university to provide interim management for the closure.

In the meeting, MSCHE announced it has approved six "teach-out" agreements, a plan detailing how students can finish their programs at another university.

The approved schools include three Philly institutions — Temple, Drexel and Moore College of Art & Design. The other three schools are Montclair State University in New Jersey, Point Park University in Pittsburgh and the New School in New York City. MSCHE is also reviewing teach-out agreements from six other universities, including Harcum College in Bryn Mawr.

Education officials took questions from concerned parents asking about financial aid plans and students seeking answers on what led to the shuttering of their institution.

Several written questions asked for clarity on the financial situation that led to the closure. Jenelle Beavers from Alvarez and Marsal did not provide an answer, only saying that her firm was not involved in the decision.

Speaking on the reasoning for the UArts closure, MSCHE President Heather Perfetti said, "I want to make clear that our commission has no idea." Representatives from other agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Education, had similar responses.

One attendee asked if there would be any disciplinary action toward UArts administration or board members. Perfetti stated that MSCHE took the most "severe action" that they could as an accreditor, while Beavers was unable to answer the question.

Lynette Kuhn, the chief of the Division of Higher Education, Access and Equity for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said the agency is looking into the situation and will have more answers at the conclusion of their investigations.

While UArts is no longer in operation, students can still retrieve a digital copy of their transcript. Alvarez and Marsal is also working with the administration on a process for students to retrieve their physical belongings from university buildings.

Alvarez and Marsal will host an additional webinar on Tuesday, June 18, at 10 a.m. On Monday, state Rep. Ben Waxman , who represents Center City, will host a policy hearing regarding the closing of UArts at the William Way LGBT Center. Philadelphia City Council also has committed to hosting its own hearings on the closing as well.