University of Bridgeport may get to keep its name

BRIDGEPORT — The University of Bridgeport may be changing hands but it won’t be changing names if Goodwin University has anything to say about it.

It will also be keeping its sports teams.

In a communication shared this evening with UB faculty, staff, students and alumni, Interim UB President Stephen Healey said Goodwin University has committed to keeping both the name and Purple Knights sports teams when the deal to acquire the seaside campus is finalized at the end of the calendar year.

“Our discussions with the Department of Education and our regulatory agencies and accreditors continue to progress, and we are optimistic we will be able to finalize the terms before the end of 2020,” Healey said.

Healey said approval is still being sought from regulatory officials including the New England Higher Education Commission to keep the name.

Goodwin University of East Hartford and Paier College of Art in Hamden plan to absorb pieces of UB. Sacred Heart University of Fairfield was to be a third partner but backed out last month.

The plan is for Goodwin and Paier to assume control of portions of UB and continue to run the programs in Bridgeport.

“We all know that the University of Bridgeport is part of the fabric of the community and a source of pride for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the residents of Bridgeport,” Healey wrote. “Upon hearing how important the University of Bridgeport is to all of us, Goodwin University is seeking permission … to continue the University of Bridgeport operations.

If all goes as expected, the University of Bridgeport will be acquired by a subsidiary of Goodwin University, and on July 1, 2021, we will begin the next chapter in our history as the University of Bridgeport,” according to Healey.

The university will operate as an independent academic institution owned by Goodwin University with its own leadership and Board of Trustees.

That may sound like an oxymoron but Goodwin President Mark Scheinberg said it’s not.

“By purchasing this it is like a sale,” Scheinberg said. “Unless the federal government says differently, we would be encouraged to keep the same name.”

He said it happens with nonprofits a lot. Goodwin would become the mothership, with control over the purse strings and backroom stuff, with UB’s board — the current board would be replaced — in charge of its academic programs.

“We will make sure the place still has academic freedom with guide rails,” said Scheinberg.

As for sports, pandemic regulations may have sidelined teams for now, but student athletes will be on the field and court and in the gym again as soon as it is safe to return, Healey said.

Scheinberg said somewhere down the line he would like to see the institution switch from Division 2 to Division 3 so that athletics become more part of the academic institution.

Scheinberg said the deal, which would have Paier taking over the art and industrial design majors, is still on track with NECHE meeting sometime this month and a bank closing expected in December. Final federal approvals and program accreditations also have to occur.

Officials still will not say how much money is changing hands.

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