After Nashua's Daniel Webster College Signs Off, What's Next For Students And Staff?

May 26, 2017

The campus of Daniel Webster College

Daniel Webster College in Nashua has closed its doors for good.

The college held its final graduation ceremony earlier this month, as remaining students now transition to Southern New Hampshire University.

The college was once known for its flight program, but had a tumultuous final few years after being sold to the for-profit ITT Educational Services in 2009.

After a federal crackdown on student aid to for-profit colleges, ITT announced last year it was shutting down its campuses nationwide, leaving Daniel Webster College’s future up in the air.

That’s where SNHU stepped in. President Paul LeBlanc joined NHPR's Morning Edition to talk about what's next for students and staff.

Back in September, SNHU agreed to what was called a "teach-out" for Daniel Webster students. What does that mean now for Daniel Webster students now that it’s officially closed?

The whole notion of a teach out is to bring an orderly closure to an institution, and we were asked if we would step in and assist in that process. So the major goal was to get students through that year so that seniors could graduate and do so on time, and that those who had more than a year to go would either transfer someplace that would be a good fit for them or could matriculate straight into their program now hosted by us at our Manchester campus. There were 618 students when we began the teach out. Of those, 158 graduated recently. Another 202 students are transferring into SNHU, and that number could continue to go up because students are still working on their paperwork. And the remainder of students transferred to other institutions that are a good fit for them.

For the 202 students transferring to SNHU, you’re offering similar programs to what they had before?

The same programs. What we agreed to do was basically take those programs over and bring them into the fold here at the university. And were we had overlap, to bring those programs into alignment. So anybody who was in a program at Daniel Webster and is now at SNHU is able to complete their program and do so without adding any additional time.

As part of the agreement, SNHU committed to hiring as many Daniel Webster staff members as possible. How many has the university hired? What will they be doing?

Out of the 40 or so employees at Daniel Webster, we’ve hired 25, and almost all of the remainder are working elsewhere in the area. Of the 25, the largest number is faculty, but there are some staff who will be in student services and support roles. And of course because we continue to grow, we have a lot of open positions and I think there were a couple who found other places in the university

What happens to the Daniel Webster campus?

On June 1, we will be handing it over to the bankruptcy court trustee and the campus is bound up if you will in the ITT bankruptcy process.

So the campus is shut down at this point, correct?

That’s correct. We understand there are a number of parties interested, but we don’t know who those are. We think there will be a fair amount of interest in the campus.

What was the mood like at the final graduation for Daniel Webster?

I think graduation was a pretty emotional day. I think there was a combination certainly of pride, lots of students rallying around the kind of once an eagle, always an eagle motto, but also emotional about leaving a place. Graduations are emotional anyway, but this one had a heightened air of a little bit of a sense of loss I think and grieving for a place people had genuine affection for. 

What were some of the costs that came with taking this on? 

There were costs, and I still haven’t seen the sort of total cost in terms of what this meant for the past year, but there were considerable costs. We were now staffing an institution that, while only 30 minutes away, we had a lot of people down there a lot of the time. It was really our intent to take very good care of the people there. ITT walked away from vendors who hadn’t been paid and we tried to make good on that. There were conversations with the city about taxes that one could argue should be paid by ITT but do we bear the burden of that? So there were a lot of costs.

Transcripts for Daniel Webster College alumni can be accessed through the N.H. Higher Education Commission. Other questions may be answered in this FAQ developed by the state Department of Education.