At the first public meeting since it was announced the New Hampshire Institute of Art was engaged in merger discussions with Southern New Hampshire University, faculty, staff and students voiced their concerns.
In the NHIA auditorium, filled with about fifty people, reactions to the prospect of a merger with SNHU ranged from cautiously optimistic to skeptical. Like faculty member Sean Beavers.
“I just have a lot of concerns and I see no benefit.”
The two schools have signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue merger talks, but most details are yet to be worked out. Top administrators and trustees like NHIA board member Phyllis Stibler stress nothing has been finalized.
“We’re just dating. You know, we’re not engaged. We’re not married. We are just really trying to understand what this is all about.”
Skip Ashooh, the Vice Chairman of the board of trustees, echoed that.
“We will only submit to a merger when we think it’s additive to the culture that we have here.”
The proposed merger would make NHIA a fourth, autonomous branch of SNHU, after its own campus, its online school and its “College for America” programs.
Some in the audience voiced concern that the search for a new NHIA president has been put on hold during this process.
NHIA leaders say if they cannot reach an understanding with SNHU by September 1st, discussions will end.