(HAMBURG, New York) The Board of Trustees of Hilbert College, a Catholic Franciscan college based in Hamburg, New York, today announced the acquisition of Valley College, a career-focused college with campuses in West Virginia and Ohio, by its affiliate, Franciscan Services. Together, the colleges will serve more than 2,000 students across New York, West Virginia, and Ohio in traditional and online programs. All required regulatory approvals have been secured and the consortium will begin operations on June 1.
“At a time when small private institutions are struggling to stay afloat, we are fortunate to have found a partner in Valley that will allow for our shared academic communities to grow and remain strong.” said Laurie Boreanaz Carra ‘81, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Hilbert College. “This is an exciting moment for Hilbert, Valley and our community of students and educators across New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. We look forward to shared success and continued growth through Franciscan Services in the months and years ahead.”
In January 2023 Hilbert announced the signing of a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Valley College, a move to support Hilbert’s strategy of extending its Franciscan mission, growing enrollment, and providing greater social mobility for students of all ages. Since then, the Franciscan Services not-for-profit affiliate was established to advance the acquisition, with the support of attorneys Frank Patyi and Dennis Cariello of the law firms Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC and Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose, Ltd, respectively, financial and logistical advice from Dan Froehlich of D.A. Davidson as placement agent, and financing from Northwest Bank.
Under the auspices of Franciscan Services, the two colleges will operate independently as separate colleges, contributing to each other’s vitality within their accreditors’ policies. Immediate plans between the two colleges include the establishment of transfer articulations in their respective online degree programs, the sharing of best practices, and expanded tuition waiver benefits for employees at both colleges. In addition, Franciscan Services will begin to review consortium-like efficiencies that the colleges could achieve through shared services agreements.
“We look forward to welcoming Valley College students and alumni to Hilbert College with open arms,” Hilbert College President Michael Brophy said. “At Hilbert, we have a passion for expanding access to higher education, and this next step will increase our geographical reach and the types of programs and pathways that we offer.”
Acquisition Creates New Degree Pathways in Business, Technology and Health-Related Programs
The acquisition creates immediate synergies in the form of new online degree pathways—from certificate programs and Associate’s degrees at Valley College through Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Hilbert College. These advanced degree tracks will be available to Valley College students and graduates of Valley College both in-person at Hilbert’s Hamburg, New York campus and online through Hilbert College Global.
In particular, students have access to new certificate-to-advanced degree pathways in business, technology, and health-related programs. More information is available at https://discover.hilbert.edu/valley/.
Growth for Long-Term Sustainability: Hilbert’s Innovative Approach
With the addition of athletic, online, and international programs, Hilbert College has defied the odds and much-discussed regional trends by increasing its enrollment by 20% over the last year.
At the same time, Hilbert’s Board pursued a strategy to radically transform its capacities and financial outlook while many peer institutions are struggling to survive. The Board identified Valley College as an attractive partner given its success in West Virginia and Ohio. Furthermore, Valley’s strength in health-related programs brings a new dimension to Hilbert’s long-term academic planning.
The Franciscan Way Forward
The coupling of Hilbert College and Valley College within this new consortium resonates with Hilbert’s Franciscan mission.
“Eight hundred years ago both St. Francis and St. Clare left their Italian city on a hill, Assisi, to go down into the nearby valley and work with those who needed them most,” noted Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. “The name of Hilbert’s new consortial partner is an apt one, given Valley’s admirable track record in providing access in urban settings like Cleveland, Ohio, and more rural settings in West Virginia.”
“Fate and a whole lot of effort brought our two colleges together, and we are both stronger on Day 1 through this affiliation,” said President Brophy. “The potential for growing together and becoming more effective through shared services is the aim of many faith-based colleges across the country. We hope this innovation will inspire others as they develop more sustainable futures through vision and partnership.”
Hilbert College is a Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) accredited not-for-profit institution offering two-year, four-year, and graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines. Hilbert is home to 750 students studying in traditional undergraduate programs within a residential, NCAA III setting in Hamburg, New York and 150 additional students in online and graduate programs. Hilbert enjoyed a 20% enrollment increase in 2022, due in large measure to new online and athletic programs. Its largest enrollments are in business, criminal justice, forensic science, cybersecurity, communication, and psychology.
Valley College is an Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) accredited, for-profit institution, offering diplomas and two-year and four-year degree programs in a variety of disciplines. Over half of Valley’s 1,000 students study using an online modality. Valley’s four educational centers (two in West Virginia, two in the Northern Ohio) serve primarily adult students who are often in transitional parts of their lives. Valley has been on a 10-year growth trajectory, raising enrollment from 100 to more than 1,000 in that time. Its largest enrollments are in the health and allied health areas.
For Valley College students and alumni looking to get more information on the acquisition and learn more about Hilbert College Global, visit us on our Valley College page.
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