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Northeastern University and Marymount Manhattan College in New York City agree to pursue merger

President Joseph E. Aoun announced the news in a message to the Northeastern community on Wednesday. The new entity will be called Northeastern University – New York City.

Two flags hanging on the outside of a Marymount Manhatten College building in NYC.
Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. Photo Courtesy of Marymount Manhattan College

Northeastern, a global research university and the world leader in experiential learning, and Marymount Manhattan College, a private liberal arts college on the Upper East Side of New York City, have agreed to merge. 

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun announced the news in an email to the university community on Wednesday.

The governing boards of both institutions have approved an agreement that — subject to state and federal regulatory approvals — would establish Northeastern University – New York City, which will become the 14th campus in Northeastern’s global university system.

“As always, our guiding principles for building the global university system remain,” Aoun said in his message. “Enhanced mobility for undergraduates; industry-aligned lifelong learning opportunities; and unparalleled opportunities for faculty to globalize their teaching and research.”

The merger would combine MMC, a liberal arts college primarily known for its performing arts programs, with Northeastern’s global experiential learning network and its rapidly growing research enterprise.

MMC has a desirable location for students, high-quality academics and deep connections to the New York City arts and theater ecosystem. Due to concerns about dropping enrollment and the significant challenges facing small colleges in the U.S., MMC’s board of trustees began to explore options with the goal of preserving the college’s educational mission. This process concluded with MMC’s board voting unanimously to pursue the merger with Northeastern.

“MMC and Northeastern are natural partners. The institutions reflect each other in many ways, including how we foster meaningful engagements with our communities and create opportunities for our students to take advantage of the resources of world-class cities to find an edge in career and life,” said Peter Naccarato, interim president of MMC. “We are very excited to establish this connection based on our shared values.”

In his message, Aoun thanked the MMC leadership for its “willingness to embark on this exciting journey together.”

“I want to thank the leadership of Marymount Manhattan College for their partnership,” Aoun wrote. “Their foresight and dedication to the well-being of their students is both admirable and increasingly necessary as the higher education landscape continues to shift.”

When the merger is completed, MMC students and faculty will gain access to Northeastern’s global university system that includes campuses in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, experiential learning programs in 149 countries, and more than 4,000 industry partners.

Northeastern students and faculty will be able to take advantage of additional undergraduate and experiential learning programs anchored to a campus in the financial and media capital of the world.

MMC underscored in its most recent academic plan the emphasis on interdisciplinary and experiential learning, which Aoun called “a wonderful alignment with Northeastern’s core strengths.”

Northeastern already places over 250 co-op students in New York City every year with major employers, including Amazon, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs and The New York Times.

“This merger exemplifies the innovation and creativity happening across the diverse landscape of American higher education, as colleges and universities seek new and creative pathways that enable them to spur student success and enhance institutional capacity,” said Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, the largest higher education advocacy organization in the country. “It is a win-win for Northeastern University and Marymount Manhattan College and, most importantly, for the students they serve.”

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Northeastern will assume all of MMC’s assets and liabilities.

Currently enrolled and admitted MMC students will be able to continue as Northeastern students in their chosen field(s) of study. Students will receive individualized guidance and support to ensure they complete their degrees and have pathways toward degree completion.

As part of the agreement, continuing MMC students will not incur tuition or fee increases (apart from customary annual increases). 

MMC’s full-time faculty members at the time of the merger will become Northeastern faculty, receive one-year contracts, and be considered for available tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure-track positions. All staff employed by MMC upon the effective date of the merger will become Northeastern employees.

As part of the merger, Northeastern will establish a center that reflects the strengths and traditions of MMC. Northeastern will also retain MMC’s Bedford Hill and Taconic College prison education programs.

Amidst the changing higher education landscape, many smaller colleges are facing challenges. Recent closures in New York alone include Wells College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Rose, Medaille University and Alliance University. Nationally, approximately one college is closing every week

In addition to sustaining MMC’s future as part of Northeastern, this merger in New York is well timed with the city facing a hiring crisis. An online job board launched by Tech:NYC, an organization representing the New York City tech industry, lists over 5,582 current openings at 694 companies.

At the same time, recruiters are struggling to find enough qualified candidates with unemployment rates for tech workers falling to 1.7% in New York City, compared with 4.8% in the general economy.

Under Aoun’s leadership, Northeastern has built out a thriving global network of campuses in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

Meeting the needs of industry — while scaling ideas, talent and solutions — will be a priority at Northeastern University – New York City.

“Over time, enrollments will span a range of academic disciplines, particularly those that align with the unparalleled economic ecosystem that is New York City,” Aoun said.

Northeastern has approximately 22,000 undergraduate students across three of its campuses: Boston, London and Oakland. Another 20,000 students are enrolled in professional graduate programs — ranging from master’s degrees to doctoral and certificate programs.

Northeastern campuses that prioritize graduate and professional master’s programs include Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, Miami, Silicon Valley and Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as Arlington, Virginia, and Portland, Maine

Campuses in Burlington and Nahant, Massachusetts — home to Northeastern’s Marine Science Center — focus on research.

Established in 1936, MMC offers 34 undergraduate majors, including entrepreneurship, behavioral neuroscience, biotechnology and environmental studies.

The MMC campus includes 55 teaching spaces and two dormitories with 750 beds in New York City. The 55th Street Residence Hall has 32 floors of student housing.