WORCESTER, Mass. - It’s been nearly a year since Becker College announced the school would be closing permanently at the end of the 2021 spring semester.
The closing, a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a decline in admissions, came as a shock to students and staff members.
The school held its last graduation ceremony last May, ending a 200-year legacy.
The announcement came as a surprise to over 1,000 Becker College students, as they scrambled to enroll at new schools for the fall semester.
Former Becker student Michaela Leibowitz, now part of Assumption University’s nursing program, said she almost couldn’t believe the closure was happening.
“It was really surreal. I did not expect it at all,” Leibowitz said. “I honestly thought that I got a spam email that wasn’t real the first time we got the email.”
Juma Kombe, now a business administration major at Worcester State University, said the realization of having to part ways with friends and classmates at Becker was difficult.
“It was kind of like, farewell, goodbye. Everyone’s gonna go around and do their thing, whether it was on the West Coast or just down in Rhode Island,” Kombe said. “It was kind of sad.”
The New England Commission of Higher Education announced in early March of last year that Becker’s financial situation was unstable and its financial uncertainty was forcing the school to announce a permanent closure.
In the days following Becker’s announcement, several Worcester area colleges stepped up to offer academic pathways to students for a smooth transition to a new institution.
Clark University officially adopted Becker’s game design program, once known as the second best in the U.S., according to the Princeton Review. By the fall 2021 semester, nearly 200 former Becker students transferred to Clark, with most of them focused on game design. The school is currently running the program from Becker’s former facilities.
“Clark guaranteed that we would transfer all of their credits from Becker and give them a comparable financial aid package so that their net cost would be no more at Clark than it was at Becker,” Meredith Twombly, vice president of undergraduate admissions at the university, said in a statement. “We really recognized how disruptive and upsetting the closing of Becker had to have been for the students…”