Higher Education

Why Richard Bland wants to break up with William & Mary

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Increased schooling has seen widespread contraction because the pandemic — mergers, closures and acquisitions are frequent and persevering with. However in opposition to that development, just a few schools are on the lookout for extra independence and freedom to outline themselves. 

Richard Bland School, in Petersburg, Virginia, is one such establishment. The junior faculty was created in 1960 as a part of William & Mary, the 330-year-old public college that operates 50 miles west in Williamsburg. As we speak, the 2 establishments are impartial in most methods, together with by way of separate accreditation. However the Richard Bland administration has been pushing to sever its final tie to William & Mary — governance.

The identical board, totally appointed by the governor, oversees the 2 establishments and isn’t topic to native management, as another public faculty boards are.

“The governor was appointing members pondering of William & Mary,” stated Debbie Sydow, president of Richard Bland. “Board members would study that they have been additionally governing Richard Bland solely after they bought on the bottom and thru the orientation course of.” 

Splits and separations are usually not remarkable in larger ed, however they’re changing into exceedingly uncommon.

There are nonetheless a few causes establishments might select to attempt to separate, in response to Ricardo Azziz, principal at Strategic Partnerships in Increased Training Consulting Group. (Azziz writes a month-to-month Mergers Watch column for Increased Ed Dive.)

The primary driver is commonly a divergence within the mission of two establishments.

“Separations additionally might happen when the aim of that faculty or program simply doesn’t slot in anymore with the targets of the bigger establishment,” stated Azziz, who led the merger that resulted in Georgia Regents College, now Augusta College

However separations also can occur when an establishment needs extra management over its monetary scenario or the place there’s a conflict of egos amongst leaders, he stated. 

There is no such thing as a unhealthy blood between Richard Bland and William & Mary, Sydow stated, however the two are transferring in several instructions. The William & Mary Board of Governors supported Richard Bland’s bid for independence, in response to a press release from a William & Mary spokesperson. 

Richard Bland is going through the identical demographic modifications as different establishments, however is working to distinguish itself and construct a definite id. In contrast to most neighborhood schools, it’s primarily residential and never open admission. The school is constructing partnerships with the native manufacturing trade, constructing out its twin enrollment program, and specializing in work-based studying, in response to Sydow. To date it has seen will increase in enrollment because the pandemic. The school now has about 750 residential college students and 1,500 twin enrollment college students, Sydow stated. (William & Mary has greater than 9,000.)

“A board that oversees the School of William & Mary, which is in its personal means evolving, actually was not greatest positioned to control Richard Bland because it turned extra complicated, extra regionally targeted, and basically turned extra related to the Petersburg area and the manufacturing financial base of our space,” Sydow stated. “It’s frankly a little bit of an alien entity.”

Breaking apart in a world of mergers

Separations and mergers typically stem from an analogous motivation — the assumption {that a} change in relationship may gain advantage the establishments, stated Guilbert Hentschke, dean emeritus of public college administration on the College of Southern California. However the present deal with merging within the trade makes an unwinding stand out.

“They’re searching for one thing completely different,” he stated. “It’s greater than independence, it’s autonomy — which is analogous to independence — it’s distinctiveness.”

Richard Bland will not be the one faculty trying a separation proper now. In late March, Union Theological Seminary and Episcopal Divinity College introduced they’d be separating. Episcopal Divinity had merged with Union in 2017, after important financial losses prompted the varsity to announce it will now not provide levels. It offered its Massachusetts campus to merge with Union, which is positioned in New York Metropolis. 

However circumstances have modified as soon as once more. “As we glance to the way forward for EDS, our introduced modifications are in response to the expansion of our neighborhood and its expressed want for elevated and broader entry to Episcopal theological schooling exterior of conventional campus-based diploma packages,” Kay Kramer, chair of Episcopal Divinity’s Board of Trustees, stated in a March statement

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