A fusion proposal between two long-standing private universities in Philadelphia that was revealed on Wednesday seems to make sense from the perspective of the programs, scale, the financial condition and the state of the higher education market.

But as well as any fusion and acquisition activity between two universities not related to hundreds of years of their own history, the positive agreement poses deep issues of identity and strategy. Ask for some renewed reflection on a changing higher education market that leaves some small institutions and their students without simple options for the future.

The agreement would have the University of San José, an institution of 6,800 students at the western edge of Philadelphia, acquiring the University of Science, a university of 2,400 students in West Philadelphia. Saint Joseph's would keep his name, and the leaders currently want San José to continue to operate at the campuses of both institutions, which are about five kilometers away.

few details are established in stone at this time. Leaders in the two universities have signed a letter of non-bibbinizing intention. Various months will be evaluated by evaluating the proposal before making a call if I should move forward. In other words, both parties could still move away if new rounds of expanded negotiations fall apart.

For now, they say brilliant things about the others.

"Recently, a particularly promising and exciting opportunity has come to the forefront," Mark C. Reed, President of San José, said on Wednesday in a letter to the faculty and staff members. "University of Science, a Premier Health Sciences University located less than five miles away, approached us as part of a structured and reflective process that decided to undertake. We accelerated from seeing many potential benefits of a combination and we are happy to start conversations. "

The counterpart of him at the University of Sciences, Paul Katz, similar notes sounded.

"Usciencia is based on an academic, geographical and historical foundation," Katz said in the University's ad to the faculty and staff members of him. "By exploring this association, we have the potential to be even stronger, we also believe in the rich history of Saint Joseph's and its commitment to the same values ​​that we have dear."

Neither the university caused its president to be available for the interviews on Thursday. They told the Philadelphia researcher that the proposed agreement is about growth and scale, but that is too early to say if it could lead to job cuts.

The members of the faculty in the two institutions were optimistic and even enthusiasts of the offer. Possibilities. Saint Joseph's is a small Jesuit institution and concentrated by liberal arts in a competitive higher education market that requires more and more scale, they said. The University of Science is even smaller and has faced greater financial challenges of recent times, but brings a suite of desirable medical care programs to the table.

"I'm really excited," said Ann Green, a professor at the English department of San José, president of his Chapter of the American Association of University Teachers and a President of His Senate of the Faculty. "I think the association with the University of Sciences brings many new fields to Saint Joe's that would really benefit us, and hopefully, are so enthusiastic about liberal arts like us, it gives you much more opportunities for growth."

Green said she teaches a course in medical humanities. She is excited to work with students of physical and occupational therapy, as well as other students interested in health professions, if the agreement is completed.

Saint Joseph's opened its first new school in three decades, the School of Health and Education Studies, in 2019. It was a basis for health-related expansion, said Ronald Dufresne, provisional president and professor associate

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