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BU-Wheelock Merger Will Create New College

With complementary programs and expertise, BU grows, Wheelock’s mission endures

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The merger of Boston University and Wheelock College will create a new school of education that will combine the doctoral programs and research capabilities of BU’s School of Education with the early childhood expertise of Wheelock’s School of Education, Child Life and Family Studies, while other Wheelock programs will be joined with appropriate programs at BU. The new college will be called the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development (WCEHD), according to a definitive agreement reached by the parties.

In a letter sent to the BU community this morning, BU President Robert A. Brown says he is pleased that the two schools have reached agreement on the merger. “We believe that BU’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development will be one of the leading colleges of education in the country, with its focus on clinical practice, scholarship, and community engagement,” Brown says. “The commitment to establish and support this new college will, I believe, appropriately preserve and enhance the great legacy of Wheelock College.”

Wheelock and BU will immediately form a Transition Committee charged with advising Jean Morrison, BU provost, on the academic programs that will be offered by the new college. The committee will be chaired by David Chard, Wheelock president, and vice-chaired by Catherine O’Connor, interim dean of BU’s School of Education, and will include four faculty members from Wheelock and four from the BU School of Education. In addition to this committee, Wheelock and BU will put in place a transition implementation structure to ensure that the integration of Wheelock and BU proceeds smoothly and includes input from stakeholders at both institutions.

The merger, which is scheduled to take place on June 1, 2018, gives BU ownership of all assets and liabilities of Wheelock College, and combines Wheelock’s School of Education, Child Life and Family Studies with BU’s School of Education, establishing a single school, BU’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development (WCEHD), which will be a centrally budgeted academic unit of Boston University, managed by University leadership and governed by BU’s Board of Trustees. The plan calls for Chard to serve as interim dean of WCEHD from the time of the merger to July 1, 2020, and to report to Morrison. The parties have agreed that immediately following the merger, the Wheelock campus will be used for Boston University academic programs.

“There is a great deal of work to be done,” says Brown. “That work will include some difficult decisions about the scope and organization of the combined college and the integration of other programs of Wheelock College into Boston University; however, we are confident that the results will be worth the effort. Our goal is to treat the Wheelock College students who join us in the fall of 2018 and all Wheelock College alumni as part of the Boston University family.”

Students currently enrolled at Wheelock will either become students in existing programs at Boston University, will continue in select Wheelock programs that will be newly incorporated into Boston University, or in some cases, will enroll in a transitional program that will allow them to complete their Wheelock course of study.

Boston University will honor the tuition rates and financial aid packages of current Wheelock students. They will not have to pay BU rates, although their tuition may increase with inflation.

All applicants seeking admission to WCEHD after the merger has been completed will be evaluated in accordance with Boston University admissions requirements, and BU’s tuition, financial aid strategies, and scholarship funds will apply to those students. WCEHD students will be part of BU’s student body, will complete the same general education program, and will have access to the same educational and cocurricular opportunities as other BU students. Requirements for graduate students, including academic and admissions standards and financial aid strategies, will be developed by BU’s Office of the Provost. Alumni of Wheelock College will be treated as alumni of WCEHD and Boston University.

Morrison says BU and Wheelock have agreed on a process for determining the titles and responsibilities that will be assumed by currently tenured Wheelock faculty at BU. She says decisions about nontenured faculty will be made on a case-by-case basis and will depend on the needs of relevant academic units at BU.

BU and Wheelock have agreed that administrative and operational functions of Wheelock will be merged with corresponding units at BU, and the University will offer Wheelock staff appropriate positions where it is practical to do so.

The endowment of Wheelock College will be integrated into that of Boston University and will be managed by the University’s investment office. Income from Wheelock’s endowment will be dedicated to support the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. All donor restrictions will be honored, and unrestricted funds will also go to support of WCEHD.

Administrators from both schools see the pending merger as beneficial to the two institutions with deep and long-standing commitments to public education in the city of Boston.

“The combination of the programs of the two schools and the additional resources we plan to deploy gives Boston University the opportunity to commit with renewed energy to our long-standing efforts to promote quality early childhood and K-12 education,” says Brown. “That is the foundation for the prosperity and stability of our city and the nation.”

“It’s a very good match,” says Chard, who taught at BU’s School of Education from 1995 to 1997 and was dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University from 2007 to 2016. “In addition to the proximity of our campuses, the schools were similar and complementary. Boston University and Wheelock both have a historical focus on the city, and they both have a desire to double down on efforts to support the institutions that are most important to the city: its public schools and social services.”

Chard says the merger will create an institution with the resources to bring much needed innovation to public education. “Wheelock really hasn’t had the resources to focus on innovation,” he says. “And this is a time when more of the same in education is not going to get us where we need to be. Education needs new and effective ideas, and this merger will give us an opportunity to be more innovative.”

The Wheelock president says he also sees an opportunity for BU to reenergize some legacies of its School of Education, such as its historical focus on special education, while enhancing its focus on college access.

BU administrators see similar benefits. They point out that BU’s School of Education excels in clinical education, doctoral education, and research, while Wheelock, which also has a strong presence in clinical education, excels in early childhood education and continuing teacher education.

Morrison has high praise for Wheelock’s Field Education program, which places students in schools, hospitals, and nonprofit agencies, guaranteeing that all graduates have hands-on real-world experience, and also for its partnerships that send students into classrooms in Brookline and Boston and provide support for the school districts’ commitments to improve literacy in multilingual urban schools.

“Programs like those are consistent with BU’s goals and perspectives,” she says. “Bringing our schools together gives us an opportunity to create a strong, nationally recognized school of education with a local footprint with Boston Public Schools. That’s important to us.”

For Wheelock, the merger stands to invigorate a venerable Boston institution whose future was imperiled by the same recent economic developments that plague many small private colleges. Moody’s Investor Services has reported that almost one third of all colleges with fewer than 3,000 students lost money in 2016, up from 20 percent three years earlier.

Founded in 1888 with the goal of educating the children of immigrants, Wheelock’s current three schools—the School of Education, Child Life and Family Studies, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Social Work, Leadership, and Youth Advocacy—had a total of 1,157 students in 2016, a drop of 39 percent from a decade earlier. Financial statements show losses in 2015 and 2016 and project a fiscal year 2018 loss of $6 million on an operating budget of about $30 million.

“The challenge,” says Chard, “is that small schools like Wheelock have to be all that larger schools are. We have to have all of the same components, but in the past five years the costs of those components have gone up significantly relative to our net tuition.” Merging with a larger school, he says, provides critical cost savings on increasingly expensive central services.

In May, the college decided to put its president’s house and one of its residence halls on the market. At the same time, it solicited proposals for mergers from 60 institutions of higher learning across the country. Of the six who responded, Chard says, BU was the best fit, not only for Wheelock, but for education in the city of Boston.

Visit the Boston University & Wheelock College Merger website for greater detail about the integration of Wheelock College facilities and programs into Boston University, including specific information for students transitioning to BU.

38 Comments
Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

38 Comments on BU-Wheelock Merger Will Create New College

  • Sylvia Odiana on 10.11.2017 at 11:01 am

    I think this is unfair that Wheelock college students are getting the same degree us as and for cheaper. I’m disappointed in this.

    • Adriana on 10.11.2017 at 12:57 pm

      From Dr. Brown’s letter:
      “For all current Wheelock College students, the net tuition (net of financial aid) will be the same as their cost would have been to attend Wheelock College. Beginning in 2018, admission of all new students will be through Boston University, using our standards and processes.”

      BU Today should probably include this in the article

      • gc on 10.11.2017 at 9:05 pm

        Will the current Wheelock students be directly admitted to BU even though they may not have the same scores to have gotten in to BU?
        It seems BU should provide them Wheelock courses and they can get a Wheelock degree w/o having to go through the BU admittance process. They can have access to the rest of BU . If they have grades that are good enough then I can see letting them graduate with a Bu degree as long as had at least 2 years of BU courses.
        New students go through the usual Bu admission process. BU will get some nice real estate close to BU campus and the Wheelock endowment which can be used to off set the lower tuition of the current Wheelock students.

      • It Does on 10.12.2017 at 8:40 am

        Direct from the article. “All applicants seeking admission to WCEHD after the merger has been completed will be evaluated in accordance with Boston University admissions requirements, and BU’s tuition, financial aid strategies, and scholarship funds will apply to those students.”

    • HarleeB on 10.11.2017 at 3:49 pm

      Perhaps the current BU students enrolled in the school of education should be allowed to attend based on the Wheelock tuition rate…

    • Aliana on 10.11.2017 at 10:57 pm

      I mean, the Wheelock kids are basically having their entire college experience drastically changed without any input from them. I definitely don’t think they should be forced to pay higher tuition. It’s not like they chose to attend BU. They are just being forced into it.

  • Kaeden Thompson on 10.11.2017 at 11:13 am

    Why has there still been no disclosure of what this will mean for the Colleges of the Fenway? Wheelock has been part of this coalition of small schools in the Fenway area for decades. It would be sad to see BU no longer honour that tradition and what it means for the other schools in COF.

    • Anonymous on 10.12.2017 at 2:23 pm

      Well, Wheelock could not sustain themselves even in the College of the Fenways. I believe that’s why the merger was in place. Even with the constorium of schools Wheelock was not able to support themselves (or so I have heard) which is why Wheelock was in talks with BU.

  • SAR '16 on 10.11.2017 at 1:07 pm

    What will happen to the Wheelock Campus? Will the formerly BU School of Education be moving there, other academic plans for it, or will it be sold off?

  • Michael J Wood on 10.11.2017 at 2:22 pm

    I am an alumni of Wheelock College from the class of 2014 of the MSW program at Wheelock. Since, the President of Wheelock has announce the merger to the Alumni association, I have been very much against the merger. I believe that Wheelock can survive with the help of their alumni.
    So, on June 1st when the papers are signed I much rather see the papers signed to see Wheelock College close their doors and have a quick death than a slow death. BU should stay where they belong.

    • Lyn on 10.12.2017 at 9:05 am

      As a current BU student, I’m also against the idea of merger. It’s unfair for BU students who worked their ass off to get admitted to BU to share the same resources and earn the same diploma as those Wheelock students who apparently do not meet the BU standards in any aspects. Not mentioning the fact that Wheelock students will be paying their current tuition rate which is much lower than the BU tuition rate till their graduation. I don’t see anything beneficial this merger brings to BU students. It will just ruin BU’s reputation and give BU some extra students who are not qualified.

      • M thomas on 10.20.2017 at 5:11 pm

        Let’s welcome the new students with open arms and not a superior and condescending attitude. They had no voice in the process and certainly did not budget for significantly increased expenses. Anyone who dedicates their life to education has an ethos of service and humility that will add to the BU community. The best teacher I ever had was a Wheelock graduate.

      • Peter on 12.24.2017 at 2:11 pm

        I am not associated with BU, but as a long-time professor at a prestigious college I find comments such as this one by Lyn disappointing. Although my daughter had scholarship offers from numerous universities and colleges, she choose Wheelock College because of its education program and small size. She will have no problem handling BU courses, as will be true for many of her Wheelock colleagues. Wheelock students have completed two semester-long field experiences by the end of their freshman year, and additional placements throughout their undergraduate careers. These experiences will certainly enrich class discussions, and the program is one that other colleges and universities has emulated. Monies generated from the Wheelock College Endowment should offset the differences in tuition.

        • Peter on 01.19.2018 at 2:18 pm

          One last reply. Three of my daughter’s friends from Wheelock just got accepted into graduate programs at Boston Colelge, Harvard and the University of Connecticut for education ….. all ranked higher than Boston University….. these kids would add greatly to any academic discussion at BU.

  • Current SED student on 10.11.2017 at 7:24 pm

    “Boston University will honor the tuition rates and financial aid packages of current Wheelock students. They will not have to pay BU rates.” How exactly is this fair to BU students again? Knowing BU, part of our tuition increase next year will be further increase to help cover what the Wheelock students AREN’T paying. smh

    Wheelock College current tuition – $33,600
    Boston University current tuition – $$50,240

    • LAW alum on 10.12.2017 at 5:39 am

      I’m sure the tuition cost “loss” in order for BU to honor current Wheelock students’ tuition rate was factored into the deal. I wouldn’t assume the cost is being passed on to BU students. Honoring Wheelock’s tuition for their students seems only fair since they have no choice in the matter and have relied on Wheelock’s tuition in planning the costs of their degrees.

      • Current ENG student on 10.12.2017 at 8:20 am

        Considering BU’s long standing tradition of tuition raises it is a fair assumption that the rest of the students will be eating the costs for their lowered tuition. That being said, I do not blame the Wheelock students and I understand the choice of them paying a lower tuition, I just don’t really see the benefit of this merger. The Wheelock kids are losing their small school community and small campus (which is probably a big reason why they chose to go there) and BU is taking on unnecessary costs that will absolutely result in another tuition raise. But ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • If you plan to be a teacher... on 10.12.2017 at 8:43 am

      …you should pay attention to detail. “All applicants seeking admission to WCEHD after the merger has been completed will be evaluated in accordance with Boston University admissions requirements, and BU’s tuition, financial aid strategies, and scholarship funds will apply to those students.” After the merger, all students accepted to the college will pay BU rates. How would you feel if, by some miracle, BU merged with Harvard or Yale, and you were forced to pay a Harvard or Yale rate while you still have 2 years to go for your degree?

      • Lyn on 10.12.2017 at 9:12 am

        Their tuition rates aren’t much higher than the BU one. In addition, if I could earn a Harvard or Yale degree, I would be willing to pay double my current tuition lol….

    • local on 11.15.2017 at 8:48 am

      For all the BU students who believe the merger doesn’t benefit you because the Wheelock students will still pay the tuition rates they committed to when they enrolled, it would probably help your understanding to research accreditation and teach-out plans.

      Accreditation bodies require a detailed teach-out plan that honors the commitment made to Wheelock students and provides a roadmap by both schools for the integration of programs and students into the new entity.

      It really isn’t about you, BU students, and your misinformed anger reflects negatively on you and your school.

  • Arline Gertzoff/SED68/69 on 10.11.2017 at 7:54 pm

    I am not happy with the proposed new name as it does not reflect Boston University but Wheelock which is associated with primary and early childhood education .Many BU graduates are involvedwith secondary education and higher and have no association with primary education.This needs further discussion and a compromise that leaves BU in the name of the school

    • Jeremy Bernier SED '15 on 10.13.2017 at 8:48 am

      While the Wheelock name is associated with primary and early childhood, I believe the new college will have all of the secondary education programs housed by SED. And the full name of the new school would technically be “Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development.” As another SED alum I think this change has a lot of potential.

  • A Wheelock Grad on 10.11.2017 at 10:36 pm

    Well, basically they have to honor this because none of the current students from Wheelock College ask for the merger. I just learned to accept and not even think about it since, both of the colleges are benefiting with this process.

  • Mike on 10.12.2017 at 6:13 am

    Why are so many people complaining about BU’s tuition? It’s not like you didn’t know how much it’s gonna cost before you decided to attend here. Can you please just work hard to make your education more valuable?

  • Li on 10.12.2017 at 6:15 am

    Why not choose to merge with MIT?

  • BU Alum Questrom '13 SPH '09 on 10.12.2017 at 11:16 am

    Let’s not forget, the name will be the *Boston University* Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. This construct is the same for other named colleges and schools within BU, for example the BU Questrom School of Business or the BU Goldman School of Dental Medicine. It’s important to understand that having a name associated with one’s school/college is a real strength. There is an identifiable brand to protect and build, and supports a concept of shared community and values. The new college will benefit from both the BU and Wheelock names. Whether we realize it consciously or not, Boston University gains tremendous credibility and marketing strength from Boston’s global reputation in higher education, health care, life sciences R&D, and tourism.

    In short, I think this merger is a fantastic development. BU gains a physical foothold in the Longwood Medical Area where billions of research dollars are attracted annually. Hopefully it offers an opportunity to give BU’s SED and Social Work programs an overdue boost in terms of physical resources and investment. There are myriad benefits to Wheelock too of course – most importantly the financial backstop of BU which runs budget surpluses, not deficits. Wheelock was in a state of financial distress as discussed near the end of the article.

    The worries about tuition disparities are minor and short term compared to the enormous upsides for both institutions. It’s really a day to celebrate the announcement. I’m pleased to see BU taking this type of bold move. I hope that Wheelock alumni visit BU’s campus and realize how much BU has to offer. Our physical plant is bar none and getting better every passing year. The capital campaign is breaking fundraising records. Students will have a multi-layer identify as both BU students, and Wheelock College alumni. They can co-exist in symbiosis under the new structure.

  • Leanne D. on 10.12.2017 at 2:51 pm

    It is disappointing to read so many elitist views here when SED’s mission is driven by inclusive, equitable education. Regardless of our many opinions about the merge, let’s welcome our new classmates/colleagues with open arms as it is BU tradition. We can learn a lot from them!

    • Sam on 10.13.2017 at 1:59 pm

      Hear, hear!

  • BU Alum CAS 1995 on 10.12.2017 at 4:41 pm

    I see this merger as very positive for Boston University. At BU, I lived on Campus at Arundel Street, and I thought BU should extend its footprint further. When Chris Reaske was Director of Development at BU, we shared a channel of Communication, and I suggested to him that BU buy the old Sears Building which is in proximity to Wheelock — near Fenway. I believe that space has since been developed by private parties. Of course, not all students are interested in the physical plant of BU when more pressing matters such as tuition are ever growing. However, it appears that the issues that students mention here are short term, and in time, this merger will be great for the BU family: the aspirations and noble course of actions that these merged institutions take, and fulfill, will bring about a more profound, challenging, and invigorating form of education that will be beneficial to the city of Boston, and to America the diverse. I love that this merger has laid a foundation to treat Wheelock’s current students and Alumni as we are all treated. Cheers to our future Terriers! Perhaps, BU may see it fit to move the School of Education (SED) to the Campus at Wheelock, and free up the SED physical plant to Pardee. While I have read that the “current plan” is to use Wheelock Campus for BU needs after the merger, it is my hope that such use is extended to all our faculty, students, and alumni for posterity.

    • Sam on 10.13.2017 at 2:01 pm

      I would think that since all those Wheelock Buildings say “Wheelock College” on them already, that SED will move over there with the name change. Makes the most sense I think.

      • BU Alum CAS 1995 on 10.13.2017 at 7:16 pm

        They will probably change all those signs and add:

        Boston University
        Wheelock College of Education & Human Development

  • Hsiao-shan Lin on 10.13.2017 at 1:58 am

    Personally, I do feel a sense of loss, not going to see SED on the website in the near future. Also, WCEHD is not as catchy as SED.
    Still, it’s great to see BU has been progressing after my graduation.

  • Virginia on 10.13.2017 at 9:04 am

    As a graduate of a Seven Sister college and parent of a BU student I think in the long run this will be very good for both institutions and shows BU’s sensitivity to Wheelock’s long history and faithful alumni. As for keeping tuition at Wheelock’s rate it only seems fair. If it were raised to BU’s many students would have to transfer elsewhere, and it is only for a fixed group of students. I am paying for my Terrier’s tuition and am not offended that others will come from Wheelock at a lower rate.

    Someone brought up the Fenway consortium and this interested my husband who is a graduate of a Fenway institution. Will BU be part of it?? The whole point of that when it was formed in the 80’s was to help all of the smaller institutions in sharing resources and more importantly buying power. I guess we will see how that pans out.

    We will be seeing more institutions of higher learning and healthcare systems merge – which has already been a trend since the start of this decade. From what I have seen it brings both positive and negative aspects and like all change takes some time to adjust to it.

  • Brunette on 10.16.2017 at 7:08 am

    What does this mean for current Wheelock students that are NOT MAJORING IN EDUCATION but rather COMMUNICATIONS?

    • Terrier'20 on 10.16.2017 at 12:28 pm

      “Students currently enrolled at Wheelock will either become students in existing programs at Boston University, will continue in select Wheelock programs that will be newly incorporated into Boston University, or in some cases, will enroll in a transitional program that will allow them to complete their Wheelock course of study.”

      Because we have a communications major within COM, current Wheelock students, per the article quote above, would likely,
      A) be placed into the communications major at COM
      B) enroll in a transitional program allowing students to finish their Wheelock studies.
      (I don’t think the part about incorporating majors applies here, but rather to the majors BU doesn’t already have, like some of the early development education majors).

  • Amelia Green on 10.26.2017 at 7:29 pm

    What does this mean for prospective undergraduate students who have planned to apply to Wheelock for the fall of 2018?

    • Jeremy Bernier SED '15 on 10.27.2017 at 12:38 pm

      According to Wheelock’s admissions page:
      “For students interested in Wheelock College, please know that we have reached an agreement to merge with Boston University (BU), and will no longer be accepting applications for undergraduate admissions through this site. The merger will form the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development (WCEHD) at Boston University, where programs in early childhood and K-12 education will be offered. If you’d like to be considered for admission to BU, please submit your application through the Common Application using BU’s CEEB code of 3087. For more information about BU Admissions, including important dates and deadlines, please visit bu.edu/admissions or call 617-353-2300.”

  • Debbi on 11.08.2017 at 6:20 pm

    I am a graduate of both Boston University (’76 Liberal Arts) and Wheelock College (’97 MS in Elementary Education). Both institutions provided me with an excellent education and I wish all stakeholders well with this merger. I teach down in Florida now, and nobody here has ever heard of Wheelock College, although we all know it’s terrific reputation in the Northeast. This merger will give Wheelock name recognition throughout the country and that’s a good thing. I just hope the close community feeling so prevalent at Wheelock does not get lost due to the size of Boston University. I loved my time at BU, but I always felt a little anonymous due to the size of the student body.

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