Sep 2017

Why Wheelock College Wants To Merge With Boston University

For almost 150 years, Wheelock College has been proudly small.

It began in 1888, as Miss Wheelock’s Kindergarten Training School.

“Miss Wheelock” was Lucy Wheelock, a teacher who saw Boston neighborhoods filling with Portuguese, Filipino and Italian immigrants and founded a school to train their teachers. During her 50 years as the school’s leader, Lucy Wheelock presented education, especially of young immigrant children, as “the greatest good of mankind.”

That sense of mission has animated Wheelock College ever since. The school still produces lots of early-childhood educators, as well as social workers and child psychologists.

But lately that kind of single-minded focus has begun to work against many small American colleges. Schools like Wheelock have experienced a perilous cycle of shrinking enrollment and rising costs over the past decade.

Michael Horn, an education consultant based in Boston and co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, puts it this way: pit “significant increases in tuition, year over year over year, against the reality that middle-class wages have largely been stagnant.”


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