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Three CT universities, one college to form consortium amid financial struggles, more options for degrees for students

Fairfield

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — The University of Bridgeport, Sacred Heart University, Paier College of Art, and Goodwin University are teaming up to form a consortium.

News 8 was with Governor Ned Lamont Tuesday when the announcement was made; it came as a surprise to those who thought the UB might be closing.

Dr. John Petillo, President of SHU said, “this is a collaboration, not salvage operation.”

Reports the financially strapped UB was folding are, for now, a passing storm.

President of Goodwin University Mark Sheinberg added, “it will be some form or format the University of Bridgeport will still exist, maybe not the same model it is right now.”

The concept for a new model in higher education brings UB, SHU, Paier College of Art, and Goodwin University together in a consortium.

Tim Larson, Director of the Office of Higher Education for the State of Connecticut says the universities assured him the plan would be transparent and “when students were looking at each one of these opportunities they had a clear shot for a certificate and ultimately a diploma.”

The idea is for students to apply to one of the universities and then ‘toggle’ to whichever campus holds their major. The main campus would be called ‘Bridgeport University Park.’

Mayor Joe Ganim, an alumn of BU, saying, “I have a lot of personal pride. We are pretty darn excited.”

Right now, no state money is involved, but the governor says the group is talking.

“There was some financial disruption here,” the governor said, “but it’s an amazing campus, great college, best view in the state, and now you have three universities all merging into one. It’s fabulous.”

Details are being finalized, negotiations are ongoing. SHU and Goodwin are looking to buy dorms and classroom space. There could be joint academic degrees.

Athletics will be complicated. UB is NCAA Division 2 while SHU is Division 1.

Sheinberg said, “there’s a very rich tradition of sports to look at. There’s also a lot of uncertainty about sports in a disciplined financial approach and a lot of questions as to whether sports will occur in the fall anyway with COVID.”

Dr. Stephen Healey, President of UB says he’s grateful for the collaboration; there’s a “bright tomorrow around the corner.”

Officials say the accreditation process with the New England Commission of Higher Education could take up to a year. Right now, they will honor scholarships and students should proceed as they normally would.

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