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Webster University closing Springfield campus

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Last edited 1:47 p.m., May 1, 2015

St. Louis-based Webster University is closing its Springfield campus this summer after 16 years in operation.

Ann Elwell, interim director of the Ozarks Regional Campus, said the decision was made to shutter the school July 31 due to declining enrollment and increased competition.

The school currently has 25 classroom students enrolled, down from around 75 in 2007. Though the private college experienced a bump in 2008 due to more people returning to school during the recession, enrollment has gradually declined since, she said.

“We were a small campus to begin with. We only offer master’s degrees here,” Elwell said, noting the school has awarded 350 master’s degrees since opening in Springfield. “Research is showing … a decline in the number of high school seniors graduating, and of course, that translates eventually into a master’s program as well.”

Elwell said when the school planted in the Queen City in fall 1998, it was one of the first to tailor to adult learners by offering classes in the evenings allowing students to retain full-time jobs.

“After a while, many colleges and universities picked up on that and that’s more the norm now,” she said. “The competition in higher ed has increased over time.”

Elwell is one of two employees at the campus, which operates out of 5,873 square feet on the second floor of Hawthorn Bank, 321 W. Battlefield Road. The school has 18 adjunct instructors, including Terry Maples, chief financial officer of Leo Journagan Construction Co. Inc., and Eric Shinault, director of treasury operations at City Utilities of Springfield.

Elwell became interim director nearly two years ago after former Director Laura Ward relocated to Nashville, Tenn. Elwell said that was around the time Webster made the decision to close the campus.

The Springfield campus is one of four planned closures - along with others in New Mexico and Florida. The university announced in December it would teach out two locations in Albuquerque, N.M., and one in Sarasota, Fla., "to ensure long-term sustainability for the institution." Webster operates over 90 campuses, Elwell said.

The Springfield campus offers five master’s degrees: an MBA, health administration, management and leadership, human resources management and human resources development.[[In-content Ad]]


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