Concordia University Ann Arbor to cut most programs

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Dive Brief:

  • Concordia University Ann Arbor plans to slash dozens of on-campus and online programs, according to a recent message to campus from Leah Dvorak, vice president of academics at Concordia.
  • Starting June 2025, the private Lutheran institution will offer just nine programs — all in medical-related fields — on its physical campus. That’s down from 53 campus programs the university currently lists on its website. It will offer another seven online programs, mostly in education fields, which is down from more than 60 currently.
  • Students choosing to remain in their programs can finish them online or at Concordia’s Wisconsin campus, more than 360 miles away. Dvorak noted that most of the university’s undergraduate offerings are already available online through the Wisconsin campus.

Dive Insight:

Concordia University Wisconsin acquired the Ann Arbor institution in 2013, when the latter was struggling. 

Ann Arbor’s largest lender, the Michigan Church Extension Fund, had been mulling whether the institution might close, and knew a possible consolidation with Concordia University Wisconsin was “probably the last chance that this school was going to have,” the fund’s board chair said last year in a historical discussion about the merger. 

More than a decade after the merger, the Ann Arbor campus is still struggling. Its deficit reached $9 million in the most recent fiscal year, and the board, together with an outside consultant, determined that it could not “generate enough auxiliary revenue to sustain its current cost structure,” according to an April message from Berg. 

The board examined whether Ann Arbor could be an autonomous university within the Concordia system. But it determined in June that the Ann Arbor campus could not operate on its own, given governance challenges and its limited financial resources. 

Before the program cuts were finalized, Concordia’s board of regents voted to “operate with a carefully curated portfolio of academic programs” after its 2024-25 academic year, Board Chair John Berg said in a campus message earlier this month. 

The board cited broader “unprecedented challenges” in the higher ed sector, among them demographic changes, enrollment pressures and high inflation. 

Unlike many institutions going through painful restructurings right now, enrollment has grown at Ann Arbor. Between 2017 and 2022, fall headcount grew by 11.3% to 1,203 students at the campus, according to federal data. And that figure grew more than 80% since 2010. 

The Ann Arbor campus is working to forge teach-out partnerships with other institutions if students elect not to finish their programs through Concordia, according to Dvorak.

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