Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Crain's Checks In on the Health of Columbia College

If your a perceptive Sloop resident you will notice that Columbia College has an extensive physical presence in our neighborhood.  Beyond the physical presence the College brings a youthful, eclectic vibe as well.

Some complain about noise or the influx of pizza joints catering to this crowd, but it's undoubted that it provides a unique elements to the Sloop.  For instance, Columbia College created the Wabash Arts Corridor which is by far one of the most interesting, new elements within the neighborhood.

Anyway, it's good to keep tabs on how Columbia is doing and we recently stumbled upon a Crain's article getting at this issue.  It's been a rough decade for Columbia (and other colleges), but it appears that they're confident with their new-ish strategy:
Columbia College Chicago, which counts "Saturday Night Live" star Aidy Bryant, Oscar-winning cinematographer Mauro Fiore and Chicago Children's Museum CEO Jennifer Farrington among its graduates, is struggling after a decadelong decline in student enrollment.
The South Loop arts and media college will report a $3.7 million annual operating budget deficit next month—the first in recent history for the 129-year-old school. It would have been worse without a faculty buyout program and staff cuts last spring.
Columbia's enrollment peaked at 12,000-plus students in 2008 and has been sliding ever since, pulling down tuition revenue. It's shrinking partly by design after the private school ended its practice of accepting all applicants, but it also stumbled in adapting to more competition in higher education. President Kwang-Wu Kim is plugging Columbia's unique arts niche and revamping its curriculum in hopes of an enrollment revival this fall as the school opens a new $55 million student center.
"The crisis was five years ago—it's not today," says Bill Wolf, a Chicago financier who is chairman of Columbia's board of trustees. It was "irresponsible" of the school's administration to let Columbia's student population climb so high a decade ago, he adds. "At some point, the board did the right thing and said we're going to be more selective."
The article is pretty in depth so we certainly encourage you to check it out if this is your sort of thing.  The new student center is certainly looking to be a jewel in the crown of Columbia and it will be curious if that's a physical sign of their reinvigorated strategy.  Time will tell.

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