By Alana Melanson
LOWELL -- When freshman Molly Clooney learned last month she would not be able to complete her degree at Mount Ida College because it would close at the end of the semester, she was surprised and upset.
The biology/pre-medical student from Stoneham said she had chosen Mount Ida because she loved the New England style and safe feel of its small Newton campus, which is being sold to UMass Amherst. In her first year at the school, Clooney, 19, excelled academically and formed many friendships with her room-, dorm- and classmates.
"Obviously, hearing about it was a bummer, but I guess everything happens for a reason," she said. "I'm just going to take it for what it is and keep moving forward."
Clooney had considered UMass Lowell when she was looking at colleges. She had family members that had attended the school and spoke highly of it, and it's where some of her friends had decided to go.
"Once I toured it, I absolutely knew I wanted to go there," Clooney said.
She'll join them this fall as a transfer student, along with a growing number of other students forced to leave Mount Ida behind.
As of Thursday afternoon, UMass Lowell had received about 80 undergraduate applications from Mount Ida students, said Director of Media Relations Christine Gillette. So far, 40 students have been accepted and 29 have submitted enrollment deposits, she said.
As of last fall, Mt. Ida had 1,555 students enrolled.
Associate Dean of Enrollment/Director of Undergraduate Admissions Kerri Johnston said she expects those numbers will only increase over the coming weeks, and UML is moving quickly to process the transfer applications, evaluate transcripts, award financial aid packages and otherwise assist students with the transition.
"We recognize they weren't planning on transferring this fall, and we want to give them a decision as soon as possible so they can make informed decisions," she said.
Jeff Cournoyer, vice president of communications for UMass President Marty Meehan, said the UMass system is working to assist as many Mount Ida students as possible through expedited and specialized transfer opportunities. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 600 Mount Ida students have shown interest, by submitted application or other indication of intent, in attending UMass, he said.
The majority are at UMass Dartmouth, "which had the residential capacity to accommodate the largest number of students and worked with its Faculty Senate to provide a blanket admissions offer to displaced Mount Ida students," Cournoyer said.
He said UMass is also taking steps to adopt several of Mount Ida's specialized academic programs, pending approval from the state Board of Higher Education and accreditors -- and the closing of the sale of the campus to UMass Amherst. The transaction is expected to close this month, Cournoyer said, but is subject to review by the Office of the Attorney General.
Shortly after Mount Ida announced it would close, UML sent admissions staff, faculty members, student affairs and residential life representatives to the campus to meet with students, Johnston said.
"We are here for the Mount Ida students. We are a very welcoming community," she said. "We have the resources available to make sure these students have a successful transition to UMass Lowell, and we are prepared to help them in any way possible."
Gillette said many of Mount Ida's academic programs matched well with those of UML, facilitating the transfer of credits in such programs as art, biology, business, chemistry, criminal justice, psychology and public health.
In-state students who transfer to UML will pay $14,800 annual tuition, compared to $35,720 at Mount Ida, she said. In-state students who live on campus pay $27,296 compared to Mount Ida's $49,400, Gillette said.
The majority of applicants have been undergraduate students, she said, but she expects to see more students apply for graduate, online and continuing education programs, as well.
UML has waived the transfer application fee for Mount Ida students, Johnston said. Students with at least 15 credits and a 3.0 GPA are eligible for a $2,500 scholarship, renewable if those requirements are maintained, she said. Students who live on campus are also eligible for $1,000 each semester of their first year, Johnston said.
All of Clooney's credits transferred to UML, so she'll be on track complete her undergraduate degree in 2021 as she intended. She said she also received a lot of grants and scholarships in recognition of her academic achievements.
Clooney said she is looking forward to starting a new chapter at UML in the fall, living on a bigger campus and getting involved with the school's many student clubs and organizations. There are more than 200 for her to choose from, and so far the Association for Campus Events has caught her eye.
"I like planning events and stuff like that, so that'll definitely be an interest," Clooney said.