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The Journal Gazette

Friday, September 14, 2018 8:20 pm

Harrison College abruptly closes; Saint Francis offers to take students

The closing of Harrison College Friday came as a shock not only to students, but to staff, according to a University of Saint Francis administrator who says the university will accept the displaced students and offer an annual $10,000 tuition scholarship.

A statement issued Friday evening from Harrison College said closing the college was a "difficult business decision."

"We are working with transfer and teach-out partners including state governing bodies and our accreditors to ensure each student has a pathway to complete their education," the statement read. 

Saint Francis' vice president for enrollment, Joel Wincowski, said he wasn't sure how many students were currently enrolled at Harrison College, but said at least three programs the university offers were also offered at Harrison, which offered two-year degree programs. An email Wincowski shared from the Indiana Board of Nursing indicated that Harrison had 31 nursing students.

The tuition scholarship, called The Franciscan Harrison Promise, "is one way we are able to assist," Saint Francis President Sister Elise Kriss said in a statement. "We understand how difficult this time must be for faculty, staff and students of Harrison."

Saint Francis offers degrees in nursing, business and surgical tech, as did Harrison, Wincowski said. The assistance would be offered as of January and Wincowski and his staff, who have already heard from many Harrison students, expect to be speaking to them this weekend.

According to the school's website, Harrison College was founded in 1902 in Marion and has 11 campuses serving Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina. Harrison is closing all of its locations, including The Chef's Academy, which will close at the end of their current term on Oct. 14.

On Friday around 5 p.m., Harrison's local campus on North Clinton Street was empty. The front door was blank, as was the digital sign that normally runs messages.

Saint Francis started hearing rumors that Harrison was closing through Saint Francis Coordinator of Transfer Admissions Allen Coultas, who recently held a similar position at Harrison, Wincowski said.

Harrison was one of several local colleges that accepted ITT, Brown Mackie and MedTech students when those Fort Wayne schools closed in 2016.