Meeting to Be Held for Public to Discuss Mount Ida Closing

Intense emotions boiled over as angry and frustrated students, parents and faculty members addressed Massachusetts' Board of Higher Education Tuesday morning over the sudden closure of the Mount Ida College in Newton.

"Mount Ida is more than a school," said one parent, Laura Gilson. "It's a home."

"I'm a single mother. It's been heart-wrenching," another parent, Chris Connolly, said through tears.

Earlier this month, the small school decided to close. School officials said the campus would be sold to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The Department of Higher Education, however, is reviewing its plans after many students and families complained.

"This lack of communication was certainly negligent, but the fact that a month ago, I received a signed contract for next year, was cruel," added Mount Ida professor Jeffrey Marshall.

For incoming students and their parents these are uncertain times – scrambling to find a school to accept them with graduation approaching – and financial aid money already awarded.

"Why are you preying on our children, luring them to come to Mount Ida with this non-existent money?" Lisa McClean, whose daughter was accepted to Mount Ida, asked incredulously.

The school's president, Barry Brown, held a closed-door meeting for students after the school announced it would close. Students, however, said the meeting did not help alleviate their frustrations.

"It was pointless. It was a waste of time," said one student. "Barry Brown had nothing to say to us. It was just noise. I don't think they have answers for us."

As the University of Massachusetts looks to accept Mount Ida transfers at its Dartmouth campus, many feel the plan is riddled with potential problems.

"Students have been forgotten, students have been taken advantage of, and they have been let down by grownups," said UMass Boston undergrad student president Katelyn Mitrano.

The announcement also upset students at the University of Massachusetts Boston. They believe their school, which is currently under construction, will take a backseat to UMass Amherst. They also feel that UMass Boston is underfunded.

In addition to UMass Dartmouth, several other schools have offered admission deals to Mount Ida students, including Franklin Pierce University and Keene State College in New Hampshire.

While the Board of Higher Education doesn't have jurisdiction over the deal, Chairman Chris Gabrieli says it's working to find solutions.

"We could only start when this hot mess was handed to us," said Gabrieli. "I think we're doing everything we can, but there are real limits."

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