Saint Joseph’s University officially completed its merger with University of the Sciences in June. According to Michael Nietzel of Forbes, University of the Sciences first started looking for a partner in the summer of 2020 amid “declining enrollment and financial difficulties.” The University of the Sciences first opened in 1821 and became the first school of pharmacy in the nation.
Saint Joseph’s, a Jesuit liberal arts institution in Philadelphia, quickly stepped up to acquire the school in the hopes of expanding its program offerings. Nietzel explains that Saint Joseph’s goal “has traditionally emphasized the liberal arts” and that they intend “to expand that school’s health sciences offerings and research in fields such as allied health professions, pharmacy, and biomedical sciences.” Saint Joseph’s originally had two schools, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Erivan K. Haub School of Business. After the merger, it added two new schools, the School of Education and Human Development and the School of Health Professions.
Saint Joseph’s will now enroll approximately 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students, taught by over 400 full time faculty, making it one of the three largest private institutions in the Philadelphia region. The university will also take over the University of the Sciences campus, giving the school two campuses—Hawk Hill and University City. As a result, the school will now be able to offer state-of-the-art laboratories and new recreational facilities.
Nietzel explains that tenured University of the Sciences faculty will be retained and current University of the Sciences students will pay their current tuition and fees rates until they graduate. While academic offerings have expanded, some programs did see changes. Because Saint Joseph’s was a Division I school and the University of the Sciences was Division II, the school went down to Division II, according to Josh Moody of Inside Higher Ed.
Saint Joseph’s new interim president, Cheryl McConnell, believes these types of mergers are going to become more common in higher education. As quoted by Moody, McConnell explains: “We all know that smaller and specialty institutions are going to continue to struggle. But this was not a merger of a university that was one step away from closing its doors, and it’s rather unique in that way. I think that’s going to become far more ubiquitous in higher education in the future. And I think that the path that we’ve laid here can be useful for other institutions that are considering the same thing.”