Sunday, May 8, 2011

Death of a College

Upsala College was successful and stable for a century, then, in the space of a few years, declined and then finally closed. What happened?

Hmm, let's see. They remained committed to the town in which they were located, and made a principled decision not to "selfishly flee" (a phrase others have often used) to a new site out in the country that had been offered as a donation. They offered fully-funded places to needy students in the local community who would not otherwise have been able to qualify for admission academically (even though such programs typically have a high drop-out rate).

They did all the correct "progressive", "sensitive" things. In theory, the college, and town, should now be peaceful, happy utopias.

Oops. The college developed financial problems and, after 100 mostly successful and stable years, went bust. The financial problems had been building for years, as had problems with crime in the surrounding area which had begun affecting the campus. New Jersey's notoriously punitive tax regime, particularly property taxes, almost certainly played a significant part as well.

After closure, the college property fell into ruin, a grateful city that now owned the buildings failing to care for them properly or, for the most part, put them to effective new use. The town in which the college is located is economically depressed and has become known as a haven for crime.

Some colleges and universities that have been absorbed by growing cities have thrived following that, becoming treasured beacons and havens in their communities. The university I attended is just one example.

But this one failed. I wonder why. I wonder if there are differing political philosophies under which different cities are governed, which have noticeably different outcomes.

Guess which major US party has governed in that locality, and much of that state, for decades?

Hint: It doesn't start with an 'R'.

I wonder what would happen to an entire country that was governed in the same manner as the town and state where Upsala was located, where education and other productive enterprises (and people) were treated with a similar level of predatory disrespect?

More photos of the former Upsala campus (now mostly gone) can be seen here.

1 comment:

  1. My company was a vendor to Upsala College for years so I have "intimate" knowledge as to why this college closed. It has NOTHING to do with politics...and everything to do with mis-management of finances WITHIN THE COLLEGE! Plain and simple. Numerous colleges & universities are in depressed areas and they thrive. Ever been to Lasalle University in Philly? The surrounding area is a war zone. Yet enrollment is UP! This is a grade A example of financial incompetence...nothing more.