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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Health college to merge with St. Joe’s

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St. Joe’s will merge with Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in Lancaster, PA. PHOTO: NATALIE BRISLIN ’23/THE HAWK

Saint Joseph’s University has entered a “definitive agreement” with the Pennsylvania [PA] College of Health Sciences for the school to merge with and into St. Joe’s, according to a Jan. 18 email from Cheryl A. McConnell, Ph.D., interim president of St. Joe’s.

PA College is a private, four-year accredited school with about 1,800 students located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Home to a 120-year-old nursing program, PA College, which now has an affiliation with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, was founded by Lancaster General Hospital in 1903 and has over 20 primarily healthcare programs available for students, ranging from certificates to master’s degrees. 

In her email announcement, McConnell said programs offered at PA College are sought after by students and have value in the communities where those students live and work. 

“It has long been our strategy to add nursing to our list of offerings for our students,” McConnell said in her statement.

Gail Benner, associate vice president of marketing and communications, said the quality of PCHS programs are exceptional.

“Directly offering these programs creates a more seamless experience for our students interested in these programs, particularly nursing, which will be available in the fall of 2024,” Benner said.

According to a Jan. 18 Inquirer article, St. Joe’s and PA College have been in talks about a potential merger since 2020. 

This merger comes less than six months after St. Joe’s merger with University of the Sciences, now University City campus. Brenner said St. Joe’s will begin a period of integration planning with PA College.

“We will now engage in one year of integration planning whereby decisions on academic structure will be made,” Brenner said. “Each area of the university will work with colleagues at PA College to integrate their department’s specific operations, from information technology to course registration to marketing.”

David King, Ph.D., professor of management at Florida State University who specializes in mergers and acquisitions, said that in terms of short-term benefits, mergers such as this one allow the university to gain pre-existing programs and accreditations without the usual lengthy process.

“Merging with other local universities allows Saint Joseph’s to avoid having to develop and build these programs, or something that would take years to attract faculty and become accredited,” King said.

In a press release, Mary Grace Simcox, Ed.D., president of PA College, said the merger benefits her institution.

“By becoming part of Saint Joseph’s, we have an extraordinary opportunity to continue PA College’s valued role in the education and professional development of the regional healthcare workforce while expanding the geographic and demographic reach of its critically needed nursing and allied health programs,” Simcox said.

The merger is expected to be closed in January 2024, pending approvals. According to Benner,  the new programs that will be offered will strengthen the current interdisciplinary healthcare education at St. Joe’s.

“Current St. Joe’s students will probably not see any effects,” Benner said. “However, it will expand future opportunities for students.”

According to King, more mergers similar to this one can be expected in the near future.

“Higher education mergers are becoming more common, as demographics drive fewer students pursuing college degrees,” King said. “Saint Joseph’s approach is proactive in that it is seeking to combine different degree programs, so it will be attractive to different students.”

This is a developing story. 

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