University in Santa Fe closes, Columbia to take transfers

By Ariana Portalatin, Campus Editor

Gabriel de la Mora
University in Santa Fe closes, Columbia to take transfers

As a student leader at The Santa Fe University of Art and Design, sophomore animation major Analyss Robles was one of the first students to find out the university was shutting down after the 2017–2018 academic year.

“I just broke down and started crying,” Robles said. “My heart hurts because I fell in love with this school—looking at other schools and trying to find what they offer is just impossible,” Robles said.

Citing ongoing financial challenges, SFUAD announced in an April 12 statement that it would be closing. So far,  the university has established 11 partnerships with other institutions around the country, including Columbia, to help students with less than 36 credit hours transfer and finish their degree, according to the university’s website.

Other partnering institutions currently include Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Columbia College Hollywood, Institute of American Indian Arts, University of New Mexico, Savannah College of Art and Design, Seattle Film Institute, McNally Smith College of Music, Academy of Art University and the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

Columbia is going to offer benefits to students to help facilitate the transferring process, according to Christine Guevara, SFUAD’s executive director of Student Affairs and Operations.

“Students are welcome to transfer to any institution they would like; there’s no limit, but the partner schools willing to go above and beyond for our students,” Guevara said. “Columbia has agreed to attempt to ensure out-of-pocket costs are similar to [those] students would have had at Santa Fe University. They have also committed to fast–tracking admission decisions and also maximizing transfer credits.”

According to SFUAD’s website, Columbia will also offer transfer students a minimum $5,100 annual scholarship, a simplified application process and a residency policy waiver to accommodate up to 96 transferable credits toward a degree for those in good standing. A year as a full-time student at SFUAD currently costs $18,424, according to the university’s website. Columbia’s annual tuition is  currently $25,580. 

In an April 20 statement sent to The Chronicle, college spokeswoman Anjali Julka said several of Columbia’s programs align with those at SFUAD, so students will be able to complete similar degrees. Julka denied interviews with President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim, Assistant Provost of Academic Services Brian Marth and Associate Vice President of Enrollment-Management Jeff Meece.

The April 20 statement also said the college completed transfer plans to help students have a clear path to completing their degree. Columbia is also participating in transfer preparation on SFUAD’s campus, meeting with students who will need to transfer.  

This is not Columbia and SFUAD’s-first-partnership, according to Susan Marcus, dean of instruction at Truman College. In 2009, when Marcus served as a tenured faculty member and assistant vice president at SFUAD, the university—then known as the College of Santa Fe—announced a closure that was never completed because the campus was bought by Laureate Education, a for-profit education company. 

Marcus said she helped students transfer out of the college and also reached out to colleges for partnerships before taking a position as associate provost at Columbia during the summer of 2009, a position she left in 2014. Marcus said an estimated 40 students were transferred to Columbia during that time. 

Columbia was a good fit for Santa Fe students because of their similar academic programs, Marcus added.

“I know [faculty] worked very hard to make that school successful,” Marcus said. “It’s a hard time, [and] I’m glad Columbia is again not only welcoming students, but I’m sure working with them to help those students be able to finish their degrees because it’s not an easy circumstance to work through.” 

Although she is unsure how many students will transfer to Columbia, Guevara said approximately 500 students of the university’s 700-student population will need to transfer. 

In the April 20 statement, Julka said Columbia also does not know how many transfer students the college can expect. 

“It is too early to determine what impact this will have on enrollment numbers, since many current and prospective SFUAD students are still reviewing their options,” the statement said.

Jonathan Burton, a sophomore graphic design major at SFUAD, said he is upset he will have to transfer to another school and has not decided what school he will choose; although, he is considering Columbia as an option and considers the chance to come to Chicago as a great opportunity. 

Burton added that he is most worried about his credits transferring to another institution.

“It really sucks that I lose the opportunity and the bond I have with my teachers,” Burton said. “Just the change is what’s hard to deal with. At Santa Fe, all the classes are four credits depending on the length, and a lot of the institution’s [classes] are three credits.” 

The university will be holding transfer fairs, which Robles said she will attend, hoping to speak with someone who is familiar with her profession.

Although Robles said she has interest in coming to Columbia, she is also looking into schools in California and Colorado.

“A lot of us called [SFUAD] a hidden gem, and I just hope I get to find another school offering what they did here and hopefully help me with financial aid like they’ve been helping me here,” Robles said

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