Marylhurst University To Close Amid Shrinking Enrollment

By Rob Manning (OPB)
Portland, Ore. May 17, 2018 8:52 p.m.

Marylhurst University is closing.

The board of trustees announced plans Thursday to shut down Marylhurst completely, later this year.


The decision follows several years of plummeting enrollment at the university outside Lake Oswego and struggles to rescue the 125-year-old private college from financial disaster.

Marylhurst University near Lake Oswego is closing amid financial constraints and shrinking enrollment.

Marylhurst University near Lake Oswego is closing amid financial constraints and shrinking enrollment.

Courtesy of Marylhurst University


Marylhurst's student body was older on average than most universities — 34 years for undergraduates, 38 for graduate students. Nearly one-third of Marylhurst's students attended online and about one-quarter attended evening classes, according to the university website. U.S. News and World Report listed business, management and marketing as its most popular programs, but Marylhurst's selection also stretched into the liberal and fine arts.

“While this decision is sad and difficult for everyone involved, we feel it’s the best decision for students, faculty, staff and our entire community,” said Chip Terhune, chair-elect of the Marylhurst University Board of Trustees in a written announcement. “The board evaluated multiple factors before reaching this conclusion, including an ongoing decline in enrollment."

In a statement, leaders said the university had 1,409 enrolled students in 2013-14, but just 743 this school year. Student attrition has apparently continued, as Marylhurst officials count just 405 students left in the lurch by the board's decision to close. The university said 81 students could graduate this summer, leaving 324 students the university intends to help transfer.

"As our students and faculty process this news, we remain committed to providing support to help them move forward with pursuing their educational and career goals," said university President Melody Rose.

As a private university, Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission has limited power to weigh in. In a statement, HECC executive director Ben Cannon said state leaders "appreciate the university's efforts to help current students complete their degrees, as well as to support others within the campus community in navigating their next steps."

Marylhurst's announcement does not mention tuition reimbursement or the specifics of sharing student information with other institutions. HECC emphasized Marylhurst's legal obligations on those fronts.

"[W]e are confident that Marylhurst University will meet its statutory obligations for the appropriate disposition of student records and the refund of any tuition that may be owed to students as a result of the closure," Cannon said.