NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — News that Stratford University is closing its doors in Newport News and Virginia Beach is catching everyone by surprise.
School officials said they’ve seen a dramatic shift to online programs and an increase in demand for their programs internationally. They’re expanding in those two areas and reducing their on-ground presence, meaning closing three of their eight campuses.
The other campus is in Glenn Allen, Virginia.
Todd Weathersby is pursuing a culinary arts degree. He said he found out Friday when he came in to talk to an advisory about classes and financial aid.
"This took me by surprise," Weathersby said. "It’s a stressful situation but I will try to get something done maybe with another school."
Vice President of Academic Affairs for Stratford University, David Brand, said they’re taking care of the 555 students impacted, making sure they can finish their classes by October or transfer to another school. He said they created personalized teach-out plans for each student.
Brand also said they’re providing outplacement services for all affected employees at the three locations. Selected faculty and staff will remain on campus to manage the teach-out.
President of the Newport News campus Dr. Karen Sturtevant said they’re focused on helping students transition.
"My number one priority is the students, that’s who I’m concerned about," Sturtevant said. "My desire is to help them transition whether it’s finding other options at Stratford or helping them get into other schools."
Some students are concerned they won’t be able to make it work.
"Today I came in and they just told me you can go to Virginia Beach or northern Virginia and I just bought a home here, so it’s a hard choice," Weathersby said.
All three campuses officially close in mid-October.
Stratford University provided this statement:
Stratford expanded its footprint dramatically during the past six years.
The expansion included four additional campuses in Virginia and one in Maryland, for a total seven campuses in the US.
In addition, we have expanded our footprint internationally in India, Pakistan, and Kurdistan. At the same time, Stratford expanded its online presence using the Moodle platform.
We have seen a dramatic shift in the US education market to online programs. At the same time, international demand for our on-ground programs has increased, particularly in developing countries.
In view of these shifts in the marketplace, we have decided to reduce our on-ground presence in the US and expand online and internationally.
We will concentrate on our strong core campuses in Falls Church, Woodbridge, Alexandria, and Baltimore.
We will close the three Southern campuses: Glen Allen, Newport News, and Virginia Beach.
This was a heart wrenching and difficult decision because we have created such a great educational space all three locations. We also had a dedicated staff, devoted to the success of our students.
We will take care of each student either through teach-out or transfer. Personalized teach-out plans have been created for each student. These will be personally delivered by academic advisors.
In addition, we are providing outplacement services for all affected employees at these locations. Selected faculty and staff will remain on campus to manage the teach-out.
These changes will have no effect on the four remaining campuses. We will continue to enroll and expand these campuses and the online program. These changes will make Stratford University a stronger institution, better able to serve the needs of its students.
We will continue to change lives…one student at a time. On ground, online, and internationally.