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California

San Diego’s Coleman University closing after 55 years

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Coleman University in San Diego will close Sunday due to financial and accreditation problems.
(Gary Robbins/Union-Tribune)

Coleman University, a small San Diego school that opened in the early 1960s to train workers for the burgeoning computer and information technology industries, is closing due to accreditation and financial problems.

The closure, which will take effect Sunday, comes with little notice. Coleman officials were promoting the private, nonprofit school about two weeks ago at San Diego Comic-Con. And its website is still marketing classes.

Coleman President Norbert J. Kubilus said in a statement that the school, which has about 200 students, learned in June that the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges’ Senior College and University Commission “denied our petition for initial accreditation.”

“Losing our bid,” he said, “placed the financial sustainability of the university in question. For the last three weeks, our Board of Trustees and management have been seeking alternate forms of financial support to keep the school open.

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“Finally, after exhausting all feasible resources, the decision to discontinue operations at the end of the current term had to be made.”

The California Office of Student Assistance and Relief issued a statement confirming the closure, and notified Coleman students that they have a right to request a refund and to have student loans discharged.

Coleman was created in 1963 by Coleman Furr and his wife, Lois, who saw an opportunity to train students in electronic data processing. The school eventually expanded its offerings. It remained a college until 2008, when it began the transition to university status.

Coleman struggled to compete in a region that is dominated by UC San Diego and San Diego State, public schools that operate large programs in computer science, information technology and engineering.

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“Declining enrollment over the last five years has taken its toll,” Kubilus said in his statement.

“Many factors outside of the university’s control contributed to this decline, such as de-recognition of our national accreditor by the secretary of Education, tightened controls over international students coming to the United States to study, and historically low unemployment in our region,” he said.

Kubilus added: “While we have stemmed the downward trend in recent months, meaningful enrollment growth is nearly impossible without regional accreditation.”

Coleman also was competing for students at a time when overall enrollment at the nation’s degree-granting colleges and universities has been sliding. Enrollment dropped by 1.2 million students from 2010 to 2016 and is expected to continue dropping, partly due to a major fall in the nation’s birth rate, education analysts say.

The slide has contributed to the closure of a number of small schools, including Marylhurst University near Portland, Ore., which is closing at the end of the year.

“We’re going to see more closures,” said Carol Aslanian, an education analyst and president of Aslanian Market Research in Hoboken, N.J. “Many small, private schools don’t have the resources to do outreach and convert people into students. It’s a very competitive market.”

Robbins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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