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Wells College to close this spring after 156 years

Wells College

Wells College, in Cayuga County, announced it will close after 156 years this spring. The college cited financial challenges as reason for the closure.

"These challenges have been exacerbated by a global pandemic, a shrinking pool of undergraduate students nationwide, inflationary pressures, and an overall negative sentiment towards higher education," a letter from Wells College Board Chair Marie Chapman Carroll and Wells College President Jonathan Gibralter said.

There were 335 full-time students enrolled during the fall 2021 semester.

The administration said they have entered into an agreement with Manhattanville University as a preferred teach-out partner. Wells College students can transfer there to continue their studies.

"Manhattanville is developing dedicated housing for Wells students and will be partners in supporting our students with transfer plans," Carroll and Gibralter said. "Manhattanville has also expressed interest in developing a legacy agreement that would integrate the Wells College name and history into the Manhattanville community."

Additional teach-out partners include Excelsior University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Keuka College, Le Moyne College, Mercy University, and SUNY Brockport.

State Senator Rachel May (D-Syracuse) represents Cayuga County and called the closure devastating.

"Wells College has been a venerable and creative institution, educating students, employing faculty and staff, and serving as a good neighbor in Aurora for over a century and a half," May said. "The winds of change in higher education these days just proved too strong for them to withstand. I have spoken with President Gibralter and offered any assistance we can provide to the college, its employees, students, and the local community in this transition."

Last year, Cazenovia College, in Madison County, permanently closed at the end of the spring semester due to low enrollment and financial strains.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.