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UArts’ Abrupt Closure Has Students Shocked & Scrambling For Backup Plans

On May 31, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia abruptly announced its impending closure after 150 years in operation. The school is set to close on June 7.

Kerry Walk, president of the school, and Judson Aaron, chair of the board of trustees, explained the University of the Arts’ closure — and its suddenness — in a joint statement shared on the school’s website on May 31. “Like many institutions of higher learning, UArts has been in a fragile financial state, with many years of declining enrollments, declining revenues, and increasing expenses,” the statement read. “The situation came to light very suddenly. Despite swift action, we were unable to close the necessary gaps.”

According to the New York Times, this statement came too little too late, after many students and faculty had already found out about the closure from the Philadelphia Inquirer or social media earlier that day. As such, many felt blindsided by the announcement. “At 2:47 p.m. on Friday I got an email asking me to apply for graduation, and at 6:03 the Inquirer posted the story that my school was closing,” said rising senior Natalie DeFruscio in an interview with the New York Times.

According to university officials, the school’s administration plans to support its suddenly displaced student body by developing “seamless transfer pathways” to partner schools including Drexel, Temple, and Moore College of Art and Design. However, despite such explanations, students are frustrated with the school’s lack of communication surrounding its closure. On June 3, school officials canceled an information session that was meant to address the closure, just minutes before it was set to begin. Instead, they directed all questions and concerns to an online form, leaving students scrambling for clarity and wondering where to go from here. 


I guess UArts is no longer the oldest arts school in the country. Any screenwriting program recs anyone?

♬ i still think about you – Sweet Boy

In response, protesters gathered on June 3 on the South Broad Street campus, demanding the answers they were promised. “The negligence is shameful,” rising senior Noah David Roberts told WHYY News in a June 3 interview. “I truly think it’s abhorrent how they’ve approached this shutdown.”

According to the New York Times, the UArts closure follows a string of art school shutdowns nationwide. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is set to end its degree programs at the end of the 2024-2025 academic year. (Some of the academy’s students were set to transfer to UArts in the wake of this change, leaving yet another crop of students unsure about their academic futures.) Additionally, the San Francisco Art Institute filed for bankruptcy in April, and the Art Institutes system of colleges announced the closure of eight of its campuses back in September 2023. 

As for UArts, the school will be canceling its scheduled summer courses and will not be enrolling a new class in the fall. Further adding to the confusion, according to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, UArts failed to provide adequate plans for closure, resulting in immediate withdrawal of its accreditation, effective June 1. This leaves students unsure whether the credits they earned at UArts will even be able to transfer over to new schools.

It’s unclear whether the promised information session will be rescheduled, or when its current students will find out what lies in store for the rest of their higher education journeys.

Cate Scott

Syracuse '26

Cate Scott is a third-year Syracuse University student pursuing a dual degree in journalism and creative writing. Actively contributing to multiple campus publications and constantly learning about the journalism field in her courses, she is dedicated to expanding her writing skills across various disciplines and formats. She is currently based in Greater Boston and is interested in exploring magazine writing, politics, investigative work, and culture. Cate has been reading and writing poetry and personal essays for years. She hopes to pursue creative writing as well as her journalistic passions in her future career. Beyond her academic pursuits, Cate is a runner and seasoned music nerd. She is on her school's club sailing team and is a proud and active sorority member. The highlights of her weeks include hosting her college radio show, exploring Syracuse, finding time to play her guitar, and doing it all with her roommates and best friends. A native New Englander, Cate spends her summers taking the train into Boston and hiking with her German Shepherd, Maggie.