By Melissa Boyd (Whetstone staff)
Senior Travis Alano never thought he’d care if Wesley’s New Castle campus closed.
Until he found out he’d have to take a course for his major there in order to graduate on time this May.
“I decided to take business ethics at the New Castle campus,” he said. “The ethics course at the Dover campus conflicted with one of my main courses I needed, so my only option was to take it at New Castle.”
Wesley College announced last month that after its lease runs out this year, the New Castle campus, which has been open since 1999, is closing.
“Our lease comes up this summer, so it was a natural time this year for our decision,” said President William Johnston. “Technology now allows us to have classes online and we don’t necessarily need the facility to reach out to the adult community.”
He said there are new opportunities for Wesley to expand in Dover.
“We just acquired the Frear building and that enables us to expand our abilities,” he said. “It’s not only for nursing. It’s a big building for classrooms, has a great parking lot, and will allow us to reach out into the community more. There’s not a lease on the Frear; it’s ours, so that has its cost advantages, too.”
Johnston said the college has more plans.
“We also feel there are opportunities at the Dover Air Force Base and as on our own campus, like the renovation of Longwood Hall,” he said.
Dr. Kevin Cullen, the director of international programs at the Dover campus, is also interim director for the New Castle campus and the courses taken at the Dover Air Force Base.
Cullen said Johnston and Dr. Patricia Dwyer, vice president of academic affairs, asked him to be interim dean after the former director resigned.
Cullen said he formulated a market analysis for the New Castle campus, which included statistical information and anecdotal stories from the students about location and performance.
“It was not financially feasible to maintain operations at the New Castle Campus,” he said. “After our outside vendor for marketing left, our recruiting dwindled for that campus. It’s continued to dwindle for the past four years.”
There are 96 students at the New Castle Campus; 25 are graduating in May.
“The New Castle Campus staff is doing a lot of work to make sure those students are taken care of,” Cullen said. “We’ll be up there another year and a half with individual, “teach out” sessions, which include what each student needs to graduate by the spring of 2014.”
Wesley signed a deal with Wilmington University and Goldey Beacom College in Newark so students can transfer credits from those institutions to Wesley.
“No student will be unsuccessful if they follow the plan,” he said.
Junior Brittany Phillips said she thinks it’s a good thing, if it helps the Dover campus and technological updates for Longwood Hall.
“I think technology updates are always a positive thing when it comes to education,” she said. “I think that the new classrooms are a positive thing for Wesley, for the fact that some classes, like in Budd Hall, are in need of a serious cleaning and renovation.”
Dr. Jeffrey Gibson, associate professor of English, has taught at New Castle at least once or twice a year for several years.
“It was important to have a full-time faculty presence (at New Castle) when possible,” he said.
He said once the lease is up Sept. 1, Wesley will temporarily relocate to another building until spring of 2014 when the students all graduate.
“We’re not sure of the facility yet,” he said. “I think it was a wise decision for the college. I like the idea that we will be refocusing all of our energy and resources on improving the Dover campus because it’s the heart of what we are about.”