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Marymount Manhattan to Merge With Northeastern

Good morning. It’s Wednesday. We’ll look at merger plans for a small college in Manhattan. We’ll also look at whether congestion pricing will mean cleaner air in places where drivers go to avoid the tolls in Manhattan.

Marymount Manhattan College, a small liberal arts school that has been buffeted by fluctuating enrollments, has agreed to merge with Northeastern University, which has expanded beyond its Boston base, in part by absorbing smaller colleges.

Marymount Manhattan’s name will change to Northeastern University-New York City when it joins Northeastern’s network, which includes campuses in London, Silicon Valley and Toronto. The merger is subject to approval by state and federal regulators and accreditation agencies, a process that could take two years or more.

Officials from Northeastern put the decision in the context of the troubling economics facing smaller colleges and universities — and Northeastern’s success with programs that give students on-the-job experience.

Joseph Aoun, the president of Northeastern, said he wanted to tap a far larger market for lifelong learners in New York — people who need to “re-skill and upskill” as technology reshapes the job market. He said that Marymount Manhattan, like Northeastern, had “placed great emphasis on interdisciplinary and experiential learning,” making the two schools a good fit.

“We want to be in New York,” Aoun said. “We like Marymount Manhattan because Marymount Manhattan is a small institution, but it’s an institution that likes experiential learning.” Aoun also said there was room for a larger school with a broader reach in New York. “No institution, even the constellation of institutions that exists in New York, can meet all the needs.”

Marymount Manhattan began as a two-year women’s college in 1936, became a four-year school 12 years later and awarded degrees to its first male graduates in 1973. Its alumni include Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for vice president; the Tony Award-winning producer Aaron Glick; Rose Ann Scamardella, the television reporter who was the inspiration for Roseanne Roseannadanna, the Gilda Radner character on “Saturday Night Live”; and Emin Agalarov, a pop star who was born in Azerbaijan.

Marymount Manhattan has been known for its performing arts programs, particularly in theater, and for a prison education program at two state facilities in Westchester County. But Aoun noted that Marymount Manhattan offers 34 majors, in everything from behavioral neuroscience to marketing.

Marymount Manhattan officials said they had approached Northeastern, but not because financial worries had put Marymount Manhattan in immediate danger of shutting down. “This was not a reflexive act on Marymount Manhattan’s part,” Abby Fiorella, the chairwoman of the school’s trustees, said.

Marymount Manhattan blamed declining enrollments and rising operating costs for an outlook that was “not sustainable” despite a $28 million endowment. The college had about 1,450 students last fall, down from 1,915 in 2017.

Marymount Manhattan has run annual deficits of more than $1 million a year since 2020 after posting a surplus of roughly $900,000 the year before. But Fiorella and Peter Naccarato, Marymount Manhattan’s interim president, said their concern was the future and the expected decline in the number of college-age students in the Northeast.

“We saw these headwinds coming,” Fiorella said.

Northeastern said that tuition and fees for Marymount Manhattan students would not increase with the merger, beyond yearly adjustments. Northeastern, with 42,000 students across its 13 campuses, charged $63,141 for tuition and fees in the academic year that is ending, $21,271 more than Marymount Manhattan.

Marymount Manhattan’s 85 full-time faculty members will be offered one-year contracts and will be considered for faculty positions with Northeastern, the two schools said. Northeastern will assume Marymount Manhattan’s liabilities, along with its assets, which include classroom buildings on the Upper East Side.

Marymount Manhattan opened 88 years ago as an outpost of Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., run by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, a Roman Catholic order. It became a four-year school in 1948 and independent in 1961, although three seats on Marymount Manhattan’s board are currently held by nuns from the order. Marymount College in Tarrytown merged with Fordham University in 2002; Fordham then closed that campus in 2007.

As for giving up the Marymount Manhattan name, Fiorella said: “Look, you’ve got to look at the sum of all parts. What to us was maintaining our signature performing arts program, our prison education program and our campus.”


Weather

Expect a sunny morning and a chance of thunderstorms later, with temperatures in the high 70s. At night, the possibility of thunderstorms remains, with temperatures in the low 60s.

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING

In effect until June 12 (Shavuot).


The countdown to congestion pricing is starting. The first-in-the-nation plan to deal with urban traffic and its effects on air quality — while also generating revenue for mass transit — is scheduled to take effect on June 30.

The tolls will prompt some drivers to avoid Manhattan, which could reduce traffic and pollution, as well as the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

But my colleague Hilary Howard writes that it’s not clear how much congestion pricing will contribute to New York State’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse emissions 85 percent by 2050. Eric Goldstein, a senior attorney and the New York City environment director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the direct air-quality benefits “modest.” Still, he supports the plan because it will provide crucial funding for public transit, without which carbon emissions and air pollutants would grow worse.

Some people worry that congestion pricing will mean more traffic, and thus more air pollution, in some places — especially the Bronx and Staten Island. Government officials have committed $155 million to initiatives like an asthma center and improved ventilation in schools in the South Bronx that are near highways.

But Assemblyman Kenny Burgos, a Democrat who represents a section of the southeast Bronx and opposes the current plan, expressed concern about a possible increase in numbers of delivery trucks, which are among the worst polluters.

“If we are getting more public transit with poorer air,” Burgos said, “it seems like a deal with the devil.”


METROPOLITAN diary

Dear Diary:

It was some years ago, and I had gotten a fantastic deal on a floor-model cruiser bike at the Kmart on Astor Place.

The bike was a deep pink and had a pretty basket. It was a perfect petite size for my 5-foot-1 frame.

I managed to get it down the stairs to the 6 train platform, and then into a crowded train car.

The problem came after I had gotten off and was confronted with having to lug it up what felt like an insurmountable staircase to the street and, eventually, my apartment.

As I paused as the foot of the stairs, looked up and considered the challenge ahead of me, a man with a kind smile and what appeared to be the strength of a professional wrestler offered to carry the bike for me.

“You’re not going to run off with it, right?” I asked.

He looked at me and shrugged his broad shoulders.

“Lady,” he said, lifting the bike and starting up the stairs, “I wouldn’t be caught dead riding this thing.”

— Anne Roderique-Jones

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.


Glad we could get together here. Hurubie Meko will be here tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

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