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BU and Wheelock College Eye Strategic Merger

Deal could bring two venerable Boston schools together

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Boston University has agreed to enter into formal discussions with Wheelock College, with the goal of merging Wheelock with Boston University. Wheelock College is a private college known for its focus on education and located on the Riverway, about one mile from the Charles River Campus.

Officials at both institutions have issued the statement below and are unable to provide additional specifics about a potential merger at this time.


Joint Statement from Boston University and Wheelock College

Boston University and Wheelock College have entered into formal discussions about a possible merger of Wheelock College with Boston University.

Wheelock College is a private college composed of three schools, focused on education, social work, and arts and sciences, with a mission dedicated to improving the lives of children and families. Currently it enrolls approximately 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students, housing many of them on its campus. Boston University is a major private research university with approximately 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students and is composed of 17 schools and colleges, including leading programs in education and social work. The campuses of the two institutions are less than one mile apart. Both schools have historically strong ties to the Boston Public School system and to the City of Boston.

Over the upcoming weeks the leadership of Boston University and Wheelock College will be working with our faculties and our academic and administrative leaders to shape the vision of our merged academic units and services. We believe the merger will enhance Boston University’s programs, as well as preserve the mission of Wheelock College to improve the lives of children and families.


The discussions between the two institutions come at a time when the higher education landscape, particularly small private colleges, is adapting to pressure from declining enrollment, tightening budgets, and increasing tuition costs.

52 Comments

52 Comments on BU and Wheelock College Eye Strategic Merger

  • Andrew Parlato (CAS'14, COM'14,'17) on 08.29.2017 at 3:34 pm

    Exciting news for BU! A warm welcome to the Wheelock community. Looking forward to hearing more details.

  • Teresa on 08.29.2017 at 3:58 pm

    How does this affect guaranteed housing and current tuition rates for current BU students? Any shift in lowering tuition prices?

    • anon on 08.29.2017 at 4:10 pm

      It is not even official, let alone finalized. How could anyone possibly have an answer to that question?

    • Tom on 08.29.2017 at 4:36 pm

      BU tuition will never be lowered. If you wanted lower tuition you should have gone to UMass, UConn or SUNY.

    • Kyle on 08.29.2017 at 4:38 pm

      Guaranteed housing: this will only create a negative effect if wheelock does not guarantee housing for all ~1000 of their students.

      Tuition rates: if there are no major shifts in the demand for a premium private university education, you can expect tuition to continue rising at 3.0-3.5% annually. BU is unlikely to change its pricing unless Wheelock runs smaller operating margins (in that case, tuition would likely rise in order to accommodate total operating margins the school usually enjoys (it will likely be insignificant since wheelock is about 3% of BU’s size)).

      Sources: Education industrial complex…

      • Gerald collins on 08.30.2017 at 12:15 am

        They must not give them BU degree as it will dilute the BU name
        Wheelock accepts >95% of applicants if u believe some of the ranking magazine
        BU could provide admin support but not the BU degree unless the same standards are used.

        • A lecturer on 08.30.2017 at 9:16 am

          People who applied to and entered wheelock will likely get a wheelock degree and at some point wheelock will stop admissions. Everyone from that point on would be a BU student. I doubt this merger will have any impact on current students of either school. Faculty and staff on the other hand…

  • Why? on 08.29.2017 at 4:15 pm

    Based on the last sentence of the article, sounds like Wheelock is in financial trouble. I just hope there’s no planned mash-up of names for the newly merged institution. I can only imagine the possibilities.

    • WRox on 08.29.2017 at 4:22 pm

      My guess is you’ll see BU’s School of Education get the name “Wheelock School of Education,” since it doesn’t bear a name (and it’s probably what Wheelock is best known for). Whether they abandon the Wheelock campus (imagine the prices condos in that area would fetch these days!) or repurpose it for some school (Education moving there probably wouldn’t make sense since most Ed students have to take a good chunk of their coursework in CAS).

      It’s interesting, nevertheless.

      • Tom on 08.29.2017 at 4:39 pm

        SSW may move there as Wheelock also has a social work program.

      • Dr. Dania Shapira on 08.29.2017 at 6:59 pm

        Thanks, Frederick. The article was very interesting. Years ago (after obtaining my doctorate degree, SED 1994) I was referred to Wheelock College with the suggestion to take some courses there in Education Management and Special Education in order to be accredited for the role of 3rd grade leading teacher… I have learned that was a common practice for such associations, and maybe rightfully, because some people I knew did recommend their programs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to pay for that, and also didn’t need that after all.

        Anyway, the announcement states that there is more benefit to BU in the merger. I assume that BU wouldn’t have to pay much for that as long as it provides housing for Wheelock College’s President :)

        Currently, SED is named Boston University School of Education. It would bother me if they changed that to Wheelock School of Education. In case the merger does take place (as seems by now. Otherwise, why would they make the announcement?) I hope it works for the better for all.

      • Jen DiTomasso Jacobsen on 08.30.2017 at 10:23 am

        This article makes mention of Wheelock’s “Singapore campus, where Wheelock offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in partnership with the Singapore Institute of Technology.” Now THAT’S interesting!

        • richard scotti on 08.30.2017 at 10:47 am

          Could be an opening for Asian connection.

  • john on 08.29.2017 at 4:22 pm

    What is the goal of this merger? Seems confusing given BU’s recent push to lower the # of undergraduate students.

    • Alum '16 on 08.29.2017 at 4:30 pm

      I would assume to acquire Wheelock’s asset’s (land) to either develop or sell.

    • Lisa on 08.30.2017 at 10:40 am

      As a BU alum, I get why Wheelock wants this but I don’t understand what the end benefits are from BU’s perspective, and the communication to the community so far seems very poorly thought out. If BU really cares about alumni fundraising, then the entire community should have gotten an email this morning. We need to feel invested in major decisions and have an opportunity to be heard.

      I’ve also been really happy with BU’s recent desire to cut undergraduate enrollment, because my biggest issue with my experience 10+ years ago was that it felt like BU had grown too rapidly to properly serve all of its students and ensure they felt connected and engaged. The only benefits I can see for this merger is some attention to the long neglected Schools of Education and Social Work (which have never seemed a big benefit to BU in the first place considering how many other schools offer these degrees for generally low paying careers at far less cost) and some additional real estate for student housing (which is sorely needed, but not a 20 minute walk across the fens from campus). It’s not like BU needs any more administrative bloat.
      Unless Wheelock has a huge endowment (I doubt it somehow), then I can’t think of a good long-term strategic reason for this. Simmons seems like a far more natural fit.

  • 2017 Alumna on 08.29.2017 at 7:58 pm

    I am honestly pretty disappointed in BU. I worked hard to be admitted, paid full tuition, and am proud to say I graduated from BOSTON UNIVERSITY. Why should kids with cheaper tuition and lower SAT scores benefit from the same name and amenities that Terriers actually work hard for??

    • Lisa Litz-Neavear on 08.29.2017 at 10:06 pm

      As a 1984 Wheelock College graduate, I find your remarks to be insensitive at best and ignorant at worst. How do you know what my SATs were? Besides, Wheelock is very well known in the Education Community, with a BU degree not necessarily carrying the same weight. As for tuition cost, suffice it to say that there was no way I was going to afford sending my own son to Wheelock on a teacher’s salary! As much as I respect BU, for Wheelock to merge with such a large institution would be more of a loss for future Wheelock students than for future BU students.

    • 2011 Alumnus on 08.29.2017 at 10:30 pm

      Hopefully you worked hard for more than the name and amenities. If not, that’s pretty disappointing.

    • PJH on 08.30.2017 at 5:43 am

      Why do you think only certain people are entitled to an education at BU? If anything BU is doing a GOOD thing by expanding opportunities. It’s problematic to think that BU only belongs to people with high SAT scores and people of higher socioeconomic status. It seems rather classist to say something like this.

    • AEL on 08.30.2017 at 8:55 am

      Your comments seem entitled and uninformed (and pretty white privileged). You don’t know anything about Wheelock’s student’s hard work or achievement. How does someone else being admitted to BU in an odd way affect you at all? There are lots of people who didn’t work hard at all and got into BU and there are a lot more people who work tons harder than you did and didn’t get in.

    • BU to Wheelock Transfer Alum on 08.31.2017 at 12:19 pm

      I find your comment extremely offensive. I was a student who went to BU my freshman year of college in 2009-2010 and hated it and transferred to Wheelock my sophomore year. I had great SAT scores and attended both colleges. Are you saying Wheelock students don’t work hard? That’s a bunch of bullshit. I’m sorry but I don’t think you have any right to say something like that.

    • 2012 Alumnus on 08.31.2017 at 1:32 pm

      Boo hoo. You’ll recognize in a few years once you’re out of your parents place that the name of the college on your resume and how amazing the gym or student center were won’t matter in the real world. If some of these Wheelock kids got a golden ticket to BU, I say congrats and welcome. Make the best of it and don’t let people with sour grapes ruin your experience.

  • Tom on 08.29.2017 at 8:24 pm

    From the Boston Globe

    “If the deal comes together, Wheelock’s School of Education, Child Life, and Family Studies would merge with BU’s School of Education to create the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. Other programs at Wheelock would merge with similar programs at BU, Chard said.”

  • Dan on 08.29.2017 at 8:53 pm

    Maybe things have changed in the last decade, but when I was in CAS and taking the odd class over at SED it really seemed like the administration didn’t give a damn about the SED beyond the minimum required funding. Cynically I guess BU wants the Wheelock name and their real estate, and has no honest interest in maintaining educational and social programs.

  • Li on 08.30.2017 at 6:17 am

    Sounds no good at all!

  • Greg S on 08.30.2017 at 7:16 am

    Ahhhhh, the ‘business’ of ‘higher education’ … who’d a thunk the two could never be mixed … there’s NO WAY a 1000 student ‘College’ can exist in today’s marketplace – welcome aboard Wheelock.

  • Logic Rules on 08.30.2017 at 7:35 am

    Self-serving

  • MO on 08.30.2017 at 8:50 am

    I can understand why Wheelock would want this merger – it’s difficult for a 1000 student college to survive today – but I cannot understand how BU profits. It has worked hard to obtain it’s ranking of #39 in the US News & World Report and this might threaten that because BU would be taking on students who, on-average, are weaker academically. Would it also take on faculty that were not selected by the same rigorous standards that, we hope, BU has been applying since the Silber administration? This article does not make the case either for or against such a merger, conveying little useful information beyond discussions are underway (and probably quite advanced).

    • Tom on 08.30.2017 at 9:00 am

      Wheelock students” stats are a lot higher than CGS students’ stats.

      • Ana Torres on 08.30.2017 at 2:31 pm

        Link? I find that hard to believe. The 25th percentile SAT for Wheelock is 800 for Math and Reading and the 75th percentile is 1015 (2016-2017 Common Data Set). According to these results, a whole large subset of their student population isn’t prepared for college in general, much less academically rigorous universities. I’d love to see you be able to subset CGS student’s stats, and it would be an even bigger challenge to show that they are less academically qualified in comparison to Wheelock students if you were able to.

        • Scott on 09.05.2017 at 5:06 pm

          There is basically no correlation between SAT scores and success in colleges, that just doesn’t exist.

    • A lecturer on 08.30.2017 at 9:21 am

      BU gains valuable and much needed real-estate. Wheelock survives in some form rather than dissolving completely and some of their employees stay employed. The relative benefits are fairly straightforward.
      It will have zero impact on current students nor diminish your degree in any way. Overtime wheelock will only exist only as a name and all students in the future will go through BU admissions.

  • A lecturer on 08.30.2017 at 9:08 am

    I forsee a good number of administrative and maintenance staff, as well as non tenured faculty, laid off. I can’t imagine BU absorbing the entire wheelock faculty, or even part of it, without clearing out some non tenured folks, not for an enrollment increase of 1000. And BU can readily handle 1000 new students with little to no increase in administrative staff.

    Higher Ed is not what it used to be when it comes to job security.

  • A Wheelock Grad on 08.30.2017 at 10:00 am

    It is disheartening to see the comments regarding Wheelock students and graduates not being on the same level academically as BU students and graduates. It appears to me that people are getting a little ahead of themselves in some aspects. BU will always look out for BU and I would not think that they would water down their admissions process for the relevant schools to accommodate Wheelock students. Wheelock is a good school and well known in the education and social work communities. To say that they are not on the same level as BU students, or that Wheelock students did not work as hard, is a testament to your lack of knowledge regarding the professions taught at Wheelock and the kind of work that Wheelock grads go on to do.

    I will be interested to learn more about the perimeters of the merger. This is somewhat of a wait and see scenario in that we are only aware of what they want us to be aware of at any given point in time.

    • S on 08.30.2017 at 11:09 am

      “It is disheartening to see the comments regarding Wheelock students and graduates not being on the same level academically as BU students and graduates.”

      BU’s average SAT/GPA: 1450/3.8
      Wheelock’s average SAT/GPA: 1030/2.88

      No, they are NOT on the same level.

      • Tom on 08.30.2017 at 11:16 am

        Those are the BU stats for admitted students. The stats for enrolled students will be much lower as many use BU as a safety school and end up attending more prestigious schools.

        • AP on 08.30.2017 at 11:59 am

          “The stats for enrolled students will be much lower as many use BU as a safety school and end up attending more prestigious schools.”

          So couldn’t you say the same for Wheelock? The students who got in somewhere better will go (and probably to state schools, which offer a similar caliber education at a lower cost?)

        • Alum '16 on 08.30.2017 at 2:42 pm

          Alright, let’s look at the Common Data Set then 2016 – 2017. You know, the student’s who actually are enrolled and all

          BU Class Rank: Wheelock Class Rank:
          Top 10% – 63% Unlisted
          Top 25% – 91%
          Top 50% – 99%

          BU SAT 25-75th Percentiles: Wheelock SAT 25-75th Percentiles:
          Critical Reading: 590 – 680 Critical Reading: 400 – 505
          Math: 630 – 740 Math: 400 – 510
          Writing: 610 – 700 Writing: 410 – 510
          Essay: 8 – 10 Essay 6 – 8

          BU ACT 25-75th Percentile Wheelock ACT 25-75th Percentile
          Composite: 28 – 32 Composite: 15 – 22

          BU GPA 4.0 Scale Wheelock GPA 4.0 Scale
          GPA > 3.75 – 35% GPA: Unlisted
          GPA 3.5 – 3.75 – 41%
          GPA 3.25 – 3.5 – 15%
          GPA 3.00 – 3.25 – 9%

    • Vivian Ward on 08.30.2017 at 11:59 am

      Thank you for your comment. While I’m not a Wheelock alum, I found the comments maligning the students at Wheelock quite obnoxious. The goal for students at Wheelock are no different than students at BU: to obtain a degree to expand their minds and progress in their chosen careers.

      If the School of Education or School of Social Work does adopt the name of Wheelock College, it likely will be in the similar vein to that of Sargent College or Questrom School of Business. Both still fall under the BU tent.

      Being critical about the financial reasons for the merger and its outcomes are valid concerns to address. Demeaning the students at Wheelock as quasi second-class citizens is uncalled for in this discourse.

      • Ken McGunagle, BULS '84 on 08.31.2017 at 5:18 pm

        Vivian Ward’s comments: Bravo! reasoned, fair and true.

  • Joan on 08.30.2017 at 10:01 am

    Honestly doesn’t make much sense. I hope it doesn’t happen for the same of the schools name and it’s reputation.

  • Another Wheelock Grad on 08.30.2017 at 11:06 am

    I received my first full-ride college scholarship as a sophomore in high school… no HS diploma necessary, they told me. I received 5 more as a senior. I had very high SATs and ACTs. I chose to go to Wheelock (and paid for it), graduating with a 3.8 as an undergrad and maintaining a 4.0 now as a grad student. Any assumptions that Wheelock students are somehow less qualified, intelligent or deserving than “traditional” BU students is ignorant, misinformed, and entirely ridiculous. People choose different educational institutions for different reasons. Maybe those of us who went to Wheelock chose to do so because we don’t want to be invisible in a sea of 33,000 other BU students. And maybe, just maybe, we chose Wheelock because we actually do believe in its mission of social justice… which we do. Both institutions stand to gain a lot from this merger.

  • Wheelock alum on 08.30.2017 at 11:59 am

    I agree that Wheelock admission standards, today,are lower than Boston University standards. However, when I attended Wheelock in the 70’s, that was not the case. I chose to attend Wheelock because of its mission to educate outstanding early childhood teachers. My college choices included acceptance to a Seven Sisters college as well. Along the journey, I received a master’s degree as well as a law degree from a top DC law school. My career was successful…and started with the Wheelock degree. I do hope that the Wheelock is remembered as a good school …a school that had some heart and soul.

  • A Wheelock Grad on 08.30.2017 at 12:17 pm

    I came to Wheelock College because of it mission so for people to down grade a school is just ignorant. I can say things about how I dislike BU and its not even necessary, the point is that people choose colleges for different various reasons. However, I could of went to BU and I was accepted with a 4.0 grade point average for grad school but, I choose not to because, I believe in Wheelock mission of social justice and human rights so for people to assume that people are not smart that get accepted to Wheelock College sounds foolish.

  • David L on 08.30.2017 at 3:42 pm

    As an MIT undergraduate in the 1980’s I was allowed to enroll a “domestic semester away” in the Wheelock Graduate School. I took three graduate courses at Wheelock. I wanted to take courses at Wheelock because the college is very highly regarded in early childhood education and I chose the graduate school because I had already taught for a couple years. (I was a matriculated MIT undergraduate over a span of six years until I graduated, S.B Management). The Wheelock courses were very memorable. Many of my classmates were teachers with years of experience who would come into Boston after a day of work. There were also senior undergraduates in the class. There were incredible discussions mixing educational theory with practical experience and the students were both knowledgeable and passionate. Statistically I would guess I probably had higher SAT scores than many of my fellow Wheelock students which meant absolutely nothing in that context. The intellectual and social abilities to be a good teacher are not so easily measured.

  • Lynda McMahon on 08.30.2017 at 10:25 pm

    Sadly, this discussion seems a bit one sided. I have read the comments regarding how the impending BU merger with Wheelock will somehow diminish BU’s sought after reputation, will compromise it’s 29% acceptance rate and how it is unfair that the 68k ticket price will be reduced to 54k for Wheelock students. The comments are, in fact, so disparaging that I am even more pleased that my son chose not to accept his admission to BU and went to UMass Amherst instead. However, my family is on the other side of this discussion because my daughter did choose to go to Wheelock, 75% acceptance rate and all. She chose it because of it’s size, because of the sense of community she felt last March at admitted student’s day, after she had already attended quite a few such days at other schools. She chose it because of the opportunity to be a part of the Colleges of the Fenway community, and the potential to major at one school and minor at another. She chose all this and at 18 years old on day two of her college experience, about 2 hours after she shot me a pic of her room all set up with the caption, “Mom, I really love it here!” she found out about the impending merger. The day before she had sat with us while we heard the Wheelock department heads talk about how they were going to personally coach each and every one of the students in the audience, who had committed to attending a bridge program to jump start their freshman year, to graduation. Now, instead of a school of 800, she will be part of an intimate community of approx. 15,000 and that’s just undergrads. To earn this degree that BU students and other community members say are going to be handed to “Wheelock’s, what ever those are”, she will need to take the same classes, work just as hard as any other BU student and then forever defend how she she earned her degree. What I find the most interesting is for a group of students who are so comfortable throwing shade, they don’t even think through the reality here. We are talking about, at most, probably 500 students that will go through the entire process to graduation, if that. Statistically speaking this number of students affecting the “reputation” of BU is minuscule. Insignificant at best. It might be wise for those critics to realize that the Wheelock students didn’t ask for this and most probably don’t want it, however “real life” is about mergers and acquisitions. Grown ups work through these real life scenarios everyday

    • Community member on 08.31.2017 at 10:58 am

      I’m confused as to who told you your daughter would have the opportunity to receive a BU degree? It has been publicly stated that current Wheelock students would receive their degree from Wheelock, and once Wheelock is absorbed into BU’s School of Education, anyone trying to participate in the semblance of Wheelock’s institutional existence would have to be admitted through BU’s admissions. I don’t think anyone is saying Wheelock students are going to be handed a BU degree because they simply are not; it would be entirely unfair to the work, sacrifice, and caliber of student at BU.

    • Another Wheelock Grad on 08.31.2017 at 11:17 am

      Well said!

  • MSW student on 08.30.2017 at 10:37 pm

    Wheelock was my first choice for MSW for reasons other that prestige. If you want to go with numbers i can whomp your BU average, but i’d rather focus on the fit between student and program. No one outside admissions cares a whit about test scores, and soon enough it’s your experience that matters, not your alma mater.

  • Current student on 09.12.2017 at 11:09 am

    People keep pulling out these test scores throughout the comments. You do realize those don’t matter AT ALL? In the real world, those hold absolutely no meaning. It’s sad to see people disparage such a fine institution. Its dedication to education & social work is WELL known & respected throughout New England. I chose this school for graduate work not because I couldn’t get into BU (I did) but because it was much more affordable, the name, & personal recommendations from friends who have attended. BU is great, but its not the end all be all for every person out there. Kindly remove the stick from your bums.

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