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Community frustrated over Wells College sudden closure; enrollment and financial viability was in decline for years

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  • Staff Report 

Fallout continues in the small community of Aurora, as well as others in Cayuga County, after the sudden closure announcement of Wells College. The small institution, which has served as a pillar in the community for more than 155 years said it would be closing at the end of the semester.

No cases of COVID-19 yet at Wells College

Tax records and college filings reveal a pattern of financial difficulties and declining enrollment over the past decade, which culminated in the decision to close the college. Despite efforts to stabilize finances through increased donations and reduced expenses, the college faced a significant drop in student numbers and financial sustainability, leading to the closure decision.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The college reported a decrease in enrollment from 530 students in 2011 to 335 in 2022, accompanied by fluctuating financial results ranging from net gains to losses over the years. The recent fiscal years showed a marked decrease in revenue despite efforts to increase funding through donations, ultimately not enough to offset the ongoing costs.

The announcement made on campus sparked strong reactions from students and faculty, highlighting the immediate impact on the community and the uncertainty for those involved. Wells College had made arrangements for students to continue their education at designated “teach-out” institutions, but the sudden nature of the announcement during finals week left many scrambling to adjust plans. The closure of Wells College adds to a growing list of private educational institutions in upstate New York facing similar fates.