- Wave Leadership College, a small, two-year nonprofit religious institution in Virginia Beach, has closed permanently after a pandemic-induced enrollment decline.
- The Rev. Mark Edwards, chair of the college’s board of directors, said in a message on the Wave Leadership website that falling enrollment, coupled with a need to fundraise more, put the institution “in an untenable situation.” It has already ceased operations, Edwards said.
- Officials are urging students to transfer to nearby Regent University, a four-year Christian college, to complete their studies.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, pundits forecast a slew of college closures because of budget strains from the loss of key auxiliary revenue and a shift en masse to online learning.
However, federal pandemic aid helped cushion colleges’ finances and stave off such closures. Congress provided billions of dollars directly for higher education, as well as money for state budgets, which likely ensured public funding for colleges wasn’t slashed in the same way as it was in past economic contractions.
Edwards similarly blamed the pandemic for Wave Leadership’s end. In his public message, he said the board of directors met June 29 and “made the very painful and emotional decision to cease operations as a college immediately.”
“I want you to be absolutely assured that decision is in no way a reflection on the performance of any of our wonderful college staff and student body,” Edwards said.
Edwards did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The college also informed its accreditor, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, of the closure. The accreditor said the shutdown was effective at the end of the month.
Wave Leadership, which was more than 20 years old, was a small operation. It enrolled 61 undergraduates, according to its website, though federal data says it enrolled 41 students in fall 2020. And according to its most recent tax form, it only employed 11 people in 2020.
It largely focused on two-year degrees in programs like pastoral leadership and Christian scholarship.
Edwards said that Regent University will house students’ and graduates’ academic records, and Regent is accepting transfer credits toward an associate degree there. It’s also honoring Wave Leadership’s tuition rate of $315 per credit hour, he said. Students must begin coursework during the 2022-23 academic year to receive that price.
Officials are exploring options for students who want to transfer elsewhere, Edwards said.