EGCC will not acquire any part of Argosy or Art Institute

STEUBENVILLE — Eastern Gateway Community College simply “didn’t have enough time” to figure out if it made sense to take on Argosy University’s online degree program or the Art Institute of Pittsburgh before it folded, President Jimmie Bruce said.

Bruce said EGCC was working its way through the complex legal and accreditation issues involved in the potential acquisition when Argosy abruptly closed March 8.

“Argosy University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh went into receivership,” Bruce said. “When that happened, we were contacted about a potential way for EGCC to step in, maybe acquire some of those assets and keep the institution up and going, or figure out a way we could help some of the students.

“Of course, we were interested in that, we talked openly about that (possibility),” Bruce said. “But the situation is, because there were no physical locations of the institution in Ohio and they were accredited by someone outside our regional accrediting agency, we did not have enough time to get through all the legal issues and accreditation issues. They decided to just shut institutions down, they didn’t allow us enough time.”

Argosy closed after the federal government terminated the school’s participation in the student aid program when it learned $13 million in federal aid meant for students had allegedly been used to cover payroll, vendors and other costs.

Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Dream Center Holdings had acquired the for-profit Argosy, Art Institutes and South University several years ago and converted them to nonprofit. But InsideHigherEd.com reported DCEH had stated in its receivership filing that the previous owners’ revenue and expense projections were off by millions of dollars. That, plus the hefty rent for the brick-and-mortar campus spaces the universities leased, left DCEH with an unmanageable operating deficit.

Bruce said EGCC would have liked to have completed its due diligence, “but a lot things needed to happen. We started to pursue it but we really didn’t have time.”

While EGCC won’t be acquiring any part of Argosy or the art institute, Bruce says that doesn’t mean the school won’t consider other opportunities to grow its programming.

He said a “lot of the groundwork has been laid,” in the event a similar opportunity arises down the road.

“It would have been nice to do it, it would have been a good opportunity,” Bruce said. “I do regret we didn’t have enough time to see how it might play out. But, hopefully, there will be another opportunity. We’re continuing to look at ways to expand our program offerings, we’ll figure out what our next project will be soon.”

Bruce said they were intrigued by the online aspects of the art institute and Argosy programs.

“We agree, we could have taken it on and helped students and expanded our offerings, but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Bruce said.

“I don’t know that we could have done anything differently — we reached out to the attorney general, who represents community colleges in Ohio. I think we did all the right things but something needed to happen quicker than we could possibly make it happen,” he continued.

But Bruce said he could never have characterized the negotiations as being “close” to a resolution “because we were up against the clock and there were some pretty monumental barriers we would have to overcome in a short period of time.”


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