Franklin University and Urbana University Partnership Agreement FAQs
For Immediate Release: April 29, 2014
Contact Sherry Mercurio, Director of Public Relations
How do Franklin University’s students and alumni benefit from this agreement?
Franklin University will be a stronger institution as a result of an expanded geographic reach, new programs and faculty, and increased resources to support its mission.
How do Urbana’s students and alumni benefit from this agreement?
Franklin and Urbana share common values which is one of the reasons this partnership agreement complements each institution. Urbana will continue to operate as an institution which values its connection with the community and respects its students and alumni. Most importantly, Urbana will have the assurance that the University will remain in operation for years to come.
As this partnership agreement is implemented, efficiencies may be gained through the integration of operations in the area of infrastructure, such as technology, whether instructional in focus or for administrative support, as an example.
How will this help Franklin and Urbana achieve their strategic visions?
This partnership agreement helps Franklin achieve diversification and extend its mission into a new market segment. Urbana will gain the support of a financially stable institution with significant operational capacities, which will be of great benefit as it seeks to revitalize. By sharing best practices and having a broader reach to talent and ideas, both institutions will continue to strive towards their separate yet closely related strategic visions.
Did Urbana University and Franklin University have an existing relationship prior to this partnership agreement?
Franklin’s Vice President for Accreditation & Institutional Effectiveness has consulted with Urbana University on accreditation issues and interacted with business faculty through the institutions’ common accreditation and involvement with IACBE.
In addition, members of Urbana’s senior administration have enjoyed ongoing relationships with Franklin for several years. These relationships have been the result of common interests in instructional delivery models such as. online learning, as well as academic program development. Dr. Shah Hasan, Urbana’s provost, served as a faculty member at Franklin at one time.
What is believed to be the cause of Urbana’s financial situation?
Urbana’s current financial challenges resulted from several years of administrative decisions that led to deficit spending and annual increases to the University’s long-term debt.
What is the financial condition/status of Urbana?
The University is facing significant financial challenges. Because of the long-term debt accrued over the past several years, no additional funding through short or long term loans is available.
What specifically does Franklin gain from this partnership agreement (asset perspective?)
Franklin will acquire Urbana’s assets and will use those assets to preserve the identity and mission of Urbana University. These assets extend beyond the material assets of buildings and property, to include the true assets of Urbana, its people and programs, which Franklin will acquire through this partnership agreement.
How much of a financial investment is Franklin making in Urbana?
Franklin has committed to making an initial financial investment and will continue to invest in Urbana’s revitalization over the long term.
Where did Franklin obtain the funding to make this investment? Were tuition dollars used?
This transaction is being funded using the resources accumulated from many years of successful operation of Franklin University.
Is this a one-time investment or will Franklin be contributing an on-going financial stream?
Franklin will be funding this investment on an ongoing basis to ensure the health, vitality, and growth of this partnership agreement.
Will Urbana require new capital contributions?
A multi-year capital budget will be developed for the Urbana facilities once this transaction closes, all necessary regulatory approvals are received, and the facilities are inspected.
Is this partnership agreement part of Franklin University’s investment strategy?
Franklin’s Strategic Plan, approved by its Board of Trustees in 2013, calls for the “Expansion of student access to education by developing new educational partnerships” which is a central theme of this transaction.
Does this purchase in any way affect the University’s nonprofit status?
This transaction does not impact Franklin's non-profit status.
Does this raise or reduce tuition?
Any changes in the tuition of either university will be decided upon in line with existing policy and with the approval of the board.
Will current academic offerings continue to be offered at both institutions?
Yes, programs will continue to be offered at both institutions. Academic program reviews will be conducted collaboratively between Franklin and Urbana faculty and staff. These reviews will keep a keen eye to supporting students enrolled in existing academic programs, while critically evaluating the quality, relevance, and viability of academic programs for the future.
Will students at Urbana be able to take classes at Franklin and vice versa?
Leadership at both universities believes students should have access to educational opportunities provided by both institutions. However, there are authorization and accreditation processes that must be adhered to for students from one institution to take classes at another. The proper channels will be followed to explore this objective.
Will students at Urbana receive diplomas that say Urbana or Franklin?
The names of the institution on the diplomas are dependent upon the official state and regional accreditation of an institution. At this time, Urbana University will maintain its current accreditation status and the diplomas will read Urbana University.
Will Urbana’s sports programs/activities continue as business as usual?
Yes, Urbana’s sports programs/activities are an integral part of who Urbana University serves.
Will academic scholarships continue?
While the intent is to continue academic scholarships for athletics, their continuance will depend in part on the Urbana University Foundation and the funds available for scholarship.
Does this affect Urbana’s D2 level status?
Leadership will be working with the NCAA and the athletic department to assure continuation of sports teams and assure that compliance requirements are met. As the details of the partnership develop, we will keep athletics as an important feature and will work to maintain D2 status.
ACCREDITATION AND INTEGRATION
From an accreditation perspective will Urbana - as we know it today - remain intact?
Urbana University is authorized by the state of Ohio to award degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Urbana is accredited as an institution in good standing with The Higher Learning Commission. These are the two critical accreditation and authorization agencies for higher education institutions in the state of Ohio.
As the formal partnership agreements are finalized and implemented over the next several months, Urbana will remain as a subsidiary/division of Franklin University. In accreditation terms, this means that Urbana will remain as an accredited entity under the oversight of Franklin University and be able to share many of the Franklin resources to support and enhance Urbana University.
How are state, regional, and specialized accreditations impacted by this partnership agreement, and are there benefits to either institution?
Urbana’s state and regional accreditation is currently in good standing. However, without the partnership agreement with Franklin to provide financial support and enhancement to processes and practices, Urbana would face being initially placed on accreditation probation followed by the eventual loss of their accreditation and authorization. Such a loss would result in the inability to continue to offer degrees or award financial aid. Therefore, it is good news that Franklin, which is also in good standing with the Ohio Board of Regents and The Higher Learning Commission, is purchasing the assets of Urbana to develop a strong partnership for continue operations and success.
Furthermore, Urbana holds specialized accreditations which require a level of reporting, continuous quality improvement, and demonstration of meeting industry/discipline specific criteria. Franklin’s recognized expertise in managing specialized accreditation can benefit Urbana by simplifying and centralizing many of the common activities and requirements of accreditation.
How will the integration process be implemented?
There will be a Franklin team positioned on a full-time basis on Urbana’s campus during the initial phases of the partnership development to help coordinate the discovery, analysis, and implementation phases of the transition.
ORGANIZATION AND STAFFING
Will Urbana’s President and his executive leadership team be maintained?
Yes, Urbana’s president and key executives will remain in leadership positions.
Will Urbana’s staff/faculty be retained?
Franklin University is an at-will employer and will continue to operate in that way. As such, faculty and staff at Urbana will be employed under these same principles. Franklin’s leadership will collaborate with Urbana’s leadership to set forth a strategy for Urbana as this process rolls out.
Once the initial integration has occurred, who will control day-to-day operational decision making and how will this impact the two organizations?
Dr. Kirk Peterson will continue to lead day-to-day operations at Urbana. Dr. Pam Shay, Vice President for Accreditation and Institutional Effectiveness, Franklin’s Transition Leader, will oversee this process at Urbana, and will lead a collaborative approach to setting and implementing the strategies which will be employed to set Urbana on the path to revitalization.
How will the two universities operate?
Urbana will continue to offer degrees under the Urbana University name with its related accreditation, and will operate as a non-profit subsidiary of Franklin. The exact legal details of the structure are still under review by legal advisors and accreditors.
What will be Urbana University’s new name?
They will maintain the name Urbana University.
To whom will Urbana staff and faculty report?
Generally speaking, Urbana faculty and staff will continue reporting to Urbana leadership.
Will this affect wages or benefits?
Wages and benefits will remain intact. As part of its longer term strategy to revitalize Urbana, salary and benefits will be reviewed and a longer term strategy will be developed with a view toward employee retention.
Will Urbana’s church affiliation be affected?
Franklin University respects Urbana’s history and will maintain a relationship with the church.
Will Franklin’s HR policies and benefits structure be extended to Urbana’s faculty/staff or will the current system stay in place?
As part of the revitalization efforts, policies and procedures will be reviewed to ensure alignment with institutional strategy. Until then, existing policies will remain intact.
Will this impact pension plans or retirement benefits?
Franklin University has a strong belief in ensuring the fiscal well-being of its faculty and staff. Accordingly, there will be no harm to funds accumulated in retirement plans and all future policy decisions will be in line with these principles of well-being.
BOARD RELATIONS, ADVANCEMENT AND ALUMNI RELATIONS
Will relationships with Board of Trustees members and alumni be maintained?
Franklin’s leadership recognizes that Urbana is a close knit community and appreciates the positive relationships and the value the University places on its Trustees. Therefore, there are a number of possibilities being considered.
Will existing community relationships and partnerships with businesses be maintained?
Because of the central role these relationships play, it is expected they will continue.
What will happen to the existing Urbana University Foundation and JA Foundation? Will it be part of the assets acquired by Franklin University?
The Urbana Foundation and JA Foundation are separate 501(c)3s with the purpose of providing support to Urbana University, and therefore are not part of the partnership agreement. However, given its mission there is a distinct and direct tie to the University that may be continued through new opportunities.
How will the newly formed Urbana Council function?
Franklin University strongly believes it is important for the voices from Urbana to be heard. During the integration, the teams will collaboratively determine the best use of the Council.
Does this agreement cease fundraising efforts for the $5 million by 12/31/14 campaign? What happens to the funds already collected toward the $5 million goal?
The positive results of the campaign thus far are a tribute to Urbana University and the dedication of their supporters - from alumni, parents, faculty and staff, and companies and individual friends within the community. The current campaign is fluid and will continue to be evaluated for alignment with the needs of the students and the institution, to ensure transformational enhancements that will reinforce and move UU's mission and vision forward.
Founded in 1902, Franklin University is one of the leading and most experienced educators of adult students. Annually, nearly 10,000 students attend Franklin, through its Main Campus in downtown Columbus, Ohio, two central Ohio locations, in Beavercreek, at co-locations across Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and online. Franklin offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate programs (including the new applied doctorate offerings) and graduates more than 1,500 students annually. The University's MBA program is offered internationally through agreements with institutions in Europe and the Middle East. Further information regarding Franklin University can be found at www.franklin.edu.
Franklin University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).