- Medaille University plans to become part of Trocaire College this summer in a move they say is meant to help both New York institutions weather declines in regional enrollment.
- The private nonprofit colleges are set to finalize the merger July 31, pending approval from the New York State Education Department, the institutions' respective accreditors and other regulatory agencies.
- Medaille's students should see little change day to day, according to the university's interim president, Lori Quigley. All Medaille credits will transfer to Trocaire, the cost of attendance will not change, and graduates this spring and summer will receive a Medaille diploma. Beginning in the fall semester, graduates will earn degrees from Trocaire.
The higher education sector faces a rough year ahead, with one bond ratings agency, Fitch, predicting “a moderate but steady increase” in consolidations this year. Colleges that are less selective or facing enrollment challenges — two categories Trocaire and Medaille fit — are more likely to close or merge, Fitch said.
"Institutions of higher education across the region and nationally have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic," Quigley said in public remarks Tuesday. "In Western New York, this has been exacerbated by declining birth rates and demographics in which there are simply fewer people attending college. More and more, institutions are having to think innovatively and form strategic partnerships to share resources and combine impact."
Medaille enrolled 1,393 undergraduate students in fall 2021, down from 2,028 in fall 2018, according to federal data. And Trocaire enrolled 1,692 undergraduate students in fall 2021, down from 1,772 three years prior.
Facing financial distress during the pandemic, Medaille made dramatic cuts to staff and programming and rewrote the faculty handbook, including a retraction of tenure, according to The Wall Street Journal. And The Buffalo News reported the college completed another round of lay-offs this February.
Trocaire and Medaille began talks on how to join the two colleges in October 2021, Quigley said.
In December 2022, the colleges' trustees signed an asset purchase agreement giving Trocaire Medaille's academic programs and campus facilities, according to Quigley. She described the educational programs at both colleges as “complimentary, non-overlapping academic offerings."
The merger was driven by "the significant challenges confronting higher education, including shrinking demographics in Western New York," Bassam Deeb, president of Trocaire, said in a statement. "Our efforts continue to be always guided by what is best for the students of both institutions and our commitment to the community.”
The Medaille campus will still host its roster of academic programs. Medaille's sports teams, known as the Mavericks, will keep their name and their schedules.
"Through all of this, we have placed students at the forefront of our thinking, our deliberations and our planning. The most important consideration during this process has been and has been focused on effecting a seamless transition for students," Quigley said during her speech.
Medaille's donor-restricted funds and endowments will continue to be used as designated, according to Quigley.