Dispatch 173: Saybrook President's Statement Support Argosy U Students

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Dear Saybrook Community and Friends of the University:

I write to share with you updates on the unfolding situation at Argosy University, and the responses from Saybrook University and our TCS Education System affiliate colleges (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Pacific Oaks College and Children's School, and The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law). As you may be aware, Argosy University campuses closed across the country last week, displacing thousands of students. We are working quickly to support these students during this difficult time.

This is an evolving situation, and the details and approaches outlined below may change as new information becomes available. I welcome any questions or concerns you may have at this time, and I thank you for welcoming and supporting any former Argosy students and faculty who may join our community in the coming months. They deserve access to a supportive, rigorous academic home, and our mission and core values compel us to provide a safe landing for these folks where we can.

The Situation at Argosy University

 Argosy was a regionally-accredited, for-profit system of universities offering online and on-ground programs across the U.S. The university system was purchased by Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH) in 2017 - a parent company that owns other for-profit college systems including The Art Institutes. Since that time, Argosy found itself on unsure footing with regards to finances and accreditation. A Receiver was appointed to oversee the system earlier this year.

On Friday, March 8, all Argosy and many other DCEH campuses were closed, displacing approximately 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The closures occurred in the middle of the term, and students were given approximately 48 hours notice of the decision. Prior to the closure, it was discovered that Argosy had failed to distribute roughly $13 million in Federal Financial Aid, leaving many students without necessary funds to support themselves this semester.

The story is quite complex, and good accounts can be found in these linked articles: Arizona Republic at AZ Central and The Chronicle of Higher Education. In short, Argosy students who started the semester without clarity on the future of their program and without their financial aid disbursement now find themselves without an educational home, or assurances on their ability to complete the degrees they started with Argosy.

TCS Education System Affiliates Offering Support

In the days between the announcement and the closure, Argosy hosted transfer fairs at several of their campuses. Saybrook University sent representatives to the Los Angeles and Orange County locations, and TCS affiliate colleges had representation at several events as well. As you can imagine, these were difficult days for the Argosy students who had just learned of the closure, and our primary goal in attending the events was to provide compassionate support as they explored options. We met MA students who were two weeks away from completing their capstone courses, and PhD students who were set to defend their dissertations this month. In some cases we were able to discuss potential transfer pathways to Saybrook, but regardless of program match, we worked to hear students out, and support them in finding a good transfer partner at the fair.

Institutions around the country are responding to support displaced students. Saybrook and TCS are proud partners in this sector-wide effort. We are working closely with: the Department of Education; the Western Association of Schools and Colleges; programmatic accreditation bodies and state regulators; and the Receiver at Argosy to create seamless transfer pathways for qualified Argosy students.

Transfer & Teach-Out Opportunities at Saybrook

The faculty and administration at Saybrook have worked closely to identify processes and procedures to support former Argosy students who wish to continue their educational journey with our university. Our support of Argosy students can be grouped into two primary categories - degrees with transfer options, and degrees with teach-out options, as detailed below.

Transfer Options

Saybrook University faculty have been working to review curricula across Argosy's programs, and have identified several departments from which we can accept transfer students. In these instances, the faculty have identified specific courses which satisfy degree requirements for Saybrook programs, and have established articulation agreements with the Argosy Receiver for the following departments:

  • Saybrook's Department of Humanistic and Clinical Psychology will offer support to students from Argosy's: MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology; EdD in Clinical Psychology; and PsyD programs

  • Saybrook's Department of Counseling will offer support to students from Argosy's: MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; EdD in Counseling Psychology; and PhD in Counselor Education programs

  • Saybrook's Department of Leadership and Management will offer to support students from Argosy's MS and EdD in Organizational Leadership, as well as their EdD programs in Educational Leadership and Higher & Postsecondary Education

In all transfer situations, former Argosy students apply to the appropriate program, and are invited to a faculty interview and program planning meeting to finalize the admissions decision. More information can be found on the TCS Argosy transfer page, and a Saybrook landing page will also be up in the coming days.

Teach-Out Options

In addition to the direct transfer options outlined above, we are also exploring the possibility of hosting teach-out options for three Argosy programs:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

  • Master of Arts in Sports-Exercise Psychology

The teach-out option differs from the transfer option in that former Argosy students are not admitted to an existing Saybrook degree program. Instead, Saybrook University assumes responsibility for the Argosy University curriculum to provide a framework in which students can complete the degree that they started at Argosy. We will continue to explore the possibility of serving as a teach-out location in the coming days.

In Summary

Argosy students, and the higher education sector as a whole, are working to navigate this challenging situation. Saybrook University and TCS Education System are committed to supporting those displaced by the sudden DCEH closures quickly and compassionately - offering transfer opportunities as appropriate, and advising all students in a way that allows them to make the best decision for their unique circumstances.

We will continue to explore transfer and teach-out options, and are working to ensure that former Argosy students are aware of their rights under the Department of Education's Closed School Discharge provisions.

Our community is committed to supporting these students in the best way we can, and mitigating any further financial and academic harm as they plan their next steps.

In Service 

Nathan´╗┐

Dr. Nathan Long, President
Saybrook University