University of the Arts in Philadelphia will close this June after years of financial difficulty

Philly Blues

University of the Arts in Philadelphia will close this June after years of financial difficulty

University of the Arts in Philadelphia was established in 1876. (Ajay Suresh/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

In Philadelphia, University of the Arts (UArts) officials have announced that the 148-year-old Pennsylvania institution is closing this week on Friday, June 7. The board of trustees issued a statement about the “heartbreaking transition” on June 2.

Kerry Walk, University of the Arts president, cited declining enrollment and cash flow problems as the main reasons behind the sudden closure. In 2013, University of the Arts enrolled 2,038 students. But today, that number is 1,149 students and 700 faculty members. “Despite our best efforts, we could not ultimately identify a viable path for the institution to remain open and in the service of its mission,” university officials said.

The development also came shortly after the Middle States Commission on Higher Education elected to withdraw UArts’s accreditation. President Walk affirmed that UArts will help their students transfer into programs at Temple University, Drexel University, and Moore College of Art and Design, among other schools.

Julian Abele portrait
Julian Abele is one of the university’s most notable graduates. (Unknown photographer/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

University of the Arts has graduated important architects like Julian Francis Abele, the groundbreaking Black architect of Duke University’s campus, and almost 400 other buildings. Other alum include myriad famous actors, singers, musicians, and painters.

The historic institution was founded in 1876 as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. Sixty-two years later, in 1938, it became the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. And then in 1964 it was renamed Philadelphia Museum College of Art.

In 1985, the Philadelphia College of Art and Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts merged to become University of the Arts in Philadelphia. It later added a College of Media and Communications in 1996 and a College of Art, Media & Design (2011).

The Center City, Philadelphia, campus contains four residence halls, six academic buildings, ten performance venues, and twelve gallery spaces. These venues once hosted memorable installations by Vito Acconci, Andy Warhol, and other luminaries.

Amid this recent announcement, the future of these buildings is uncertain.