ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

A Sign of Things to Come?

May 8, 2014 by Armand B. Alacbay

“Fifteen years from now more than half of the universities [in the United States] will be in bankruptcy.”

Such were the words of bestselling author and Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in an interview last year. And in a letter to fellow college and university trustees the year before that, he urged governing boards to be more deliberate in mitigating higher education costs that are growing to unsustainable levels.

Unfortunately, Christensen’s words are proving to be prophetic.

Earlier this week, the president of Virginia Intermont College announced her resignation, as the board of trustees of the 130-year old liberal arts college called its future “unknown.”  Facing declining enrollment, the school has struggled financially, unable to pay back taxes, employee salaries, or even its electric bill.  A proposed merger between Virginia Intermont and another university fell through in April, with the schools citing a lack of a “viable model for merger.”

Trustees of small, private, not-for-profit colleges—even those with long-standing traditions—are under enormous pressure to find creative solutions to the financial challenges facing higher education.

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