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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

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Northeastern announces merger with Marymount Manhattan College in New York City

Jessica Xing
An American flag flies on top of Ell Hall on Northeastern’s Boston campus. The university announced a new merger with Marymount Manhattan College May 29.

Northeastern announced Wednesday morning that it will acquire Marymount Manhattan College, a small, private liberal arts institution in New York City that has struggled with declining enrollment in recent years. The merger will mark Northeastern’s 14th campus and comes less than 3 years after the announcement of Northeastern’s merger with Mills College in Oakland in 2021.

Marymount Manhattan College, or MMC, was founded in 1936 and is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and has a well-known performing arts program. After the merger, the school will be known as “Northeastern University – New York City,” Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun wrote in a statement to the university community. 

“As always, our guiding principles for building the Global University System remain: Enhanced mobility for undergraduates; industry-aligned lifelong learning opportunities; and unparalleled opportunities for faculty to globalize their teaching and research,” Aoun wrote in the statement published on Northeastern’s website and emailed to students on all the university’s campuses. “And because no other university has built a global system quite like Northeastern’s, we are differentiating ourselves at a time of great uncertainty in higher education.”

The governing boards of both institutions have approved the merger, but it is still subject to final approval by both state and federal regulators and will be completed in stages. Once it is complete, Northeastern will assume MMC’s assets and liabilities, according to an FAQ page about the deal.

The university did not directly answer questions from The News about how long the merger will take to complete nor how long the two schools have been in communication about an acquisition. A university spokesperson referred The News to Aoun’s statement and the FAQ page.

On the FAQ page, Northeastern said the growth of its global network has benefitted the university in a variety of ways, including “financial health, demand for our educational offerings, faculty recruitment, philanthropic opportunities and brand visibility.” 

“The addition of a New York City campus will further amplify all of these benefits, while also providing powerful differentiation at a time when higher education is undergoing profound changes,” the FAQ reads.

Marymount Manhattan College, which first opened as a two-year women’s college, offers 34 different majors across disciplines and currently enrolls 1,400 undergraduate students. Over 80% of enrolled students in fall 2023 identified as female, according to the college. 

Once the merger is complete, current and admitted MMC students will continue their studies at Northeastern without tuition or fee increases apart from normal annual increases, according to Aoun’s statement. Marymount Manhattan students will also gain access to Northeastern’s experiential learning programs, which includes co-op, service learning and global experience opportunities, according to MMC’s website.

“Enrolled and admitted students at the time of the merger will continue to make academic progress in their chosen field(s) of study,” Northeastern’s FAQ reads. “In the event that program offerings are changed, students will receive individualized guidance and support to ensure a pathway toward degree completion.”

Marymount Manhattan currently offers several performing arts-focused majors that Northeastern does not have — those include dance, stage and production management, musical theatre and theatre design and technology. In 2022, almost 60% of undergraduate students at MMC were awarded degrees from a performing arts program, according to Data USA.

Full-time MMC faculty at the time of the merger will receive one-year Northeastern contracts and be considered for tenured, tenure-track and non-tenured positions. All MMC staff will become Northeastern employees on the effective date of the merger, according to the FAQ page.

In his statement, Aoun wrote that “New York is home to a fast-growing technology sector” and that students are increasingly “seeking opportunities to reskill and upskill themselves to meet the employment opportunities of tomorrow.” 

Northeastern did not directly answer questions from The News about whether the New York campus would shift its focus from liberal arts to technology and related fields, but the FAQ states that “enrollments [at the campus] could span a range of academic disciplines, including those that align with the unparalleled economic ecosystem that is New York City.”

Marymount Manhattan College has been struggling with a falling enrollment and retention rate for undergraduate students in recent years. Data from the college shows that undergraduate enrollment dropped by 2.6% between fall 2022 and fall 2023, and total continuous registrations dropped by over 20%. 

Financial pressures have also taken a toll on the school. According to tax filings, the school’s assets have decreased while total operating costs have continued to climb.

The college’s financial and enrollment challenges prompted the MMC Board of Trustees to look for a plan to preserve the school’s mission. The merger is the result of a unanimous vote by MMC’s 27 members of the Board of Trustees, Northeastern’s FAQ reads.

“MMC’s Board of Trustees proactively sought out a plan to ensure the continuation of the core elements of MMC for generations to come,” MMC wrote on its own FAQ page about the merger. “Through this agreement, MMC aims to benefit from additional resources and complementary strengths of Northeastern.”

Northeastern said it would take steps to preserve the historical elements of MMC, which has existed for almost 90 years. Names of certain buildings including the Judith Mara Carson Center for Visual Arts and Theresa Lang Theatre will be preserved, according to Northeastern’s FAQ. 

Marymount Manhattan College’s campus, located on East 71st Street, includes 55 teaching spaces and two residence halls with over 750 beds, according to Northeastern Global News, the university-run media outlet.

“As part of the merger, Northeastern will establish a center that reflects the strengths and traditions of MMC. Northeastern will also retain MMC’s Bedford Hill and Taconic College prison education programs,” the FAQ reads.

Northeastern’s focus on experiential learning and MMC’s mission of providing a student-centered education give the schools a “shared vision,” according to MMC’s website. 

Northeastern’s focus on experiential learning and MMC’s student-centered educational approach closely align, with both missions being “geared toward preparing students to lead lives of fulfillment and accomplishment,” according to MMC’s website.

“MMC and Northeastern are natural partners,” said interim MMC President Peter Naccarato in a statement. “The institutions reflect each other in many ways, including how we foster meaningful engagements with our communities and create opportunities for our students to take advantage of the resources of world-class cities to find an edge in career and life.”

The merger with MMC is just one chapter in Northeastern’s expansion story: the university acquired the New College of the Humanities in London in 2019 and completed a merger with Mills College in Oakland in 2022. 

The school’s acquisition of Mills College, a historically women’s liberal arts college with a rich history and historic social justice programs, faced backlash from Mills students and alumni. The criticism concentrated on what some saw as a failure to preserve Mills’ legacy and the end of historic Mills majors like ethnic studies, dance, child development and education and art history. 

Over the last 13 years, Northeastern has opened campuses in 11 domestic and global locations: Arlington, Virginia; Burlington, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami; Oakland, California; Portland, Maine; Silicon Valley, California; Seattle; London; Toronto and Vancouver. The Boston campus was established in 1898, and Northeastern’s Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachusetts has been operating since 1967.

About the Contributors
Kristina DaPonte
Kristina DaPonte, Lifestyle Editor
Kristina DaPonte is a third-year journalism major with a minor in communication studies. She is the deputy lifestyle editor for The News as well as a contributor to Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine. She's excited to bring exciting, engaging stories to the table. Follow her @dapontekristina on Twitter for updates.
Emily Spatz
Emily Spatz, Campus Editor
Emily Spatz is a journalism and political science combined major with a minor in english and campus editor of The News. She is currently a general assignment reporter co-op at and has interned at her hometown newspaper covering business, city events and politics. She hopes to continue bringing pertinent, timely and thorough reporting to the Northeastern community. You can follow her @emilymspatz on X.
Jessica Xing
Jessica Xing, Photo Editor
Jessica Xing is a third-year graphic design major with a minor in journalism. She has previously served as deputy photo editor and design editor and is excited to continue working with photographers for The News this semester.
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