The president of Lebanon College says canceling the upcoming fall semester's classes is a sign of things to come; the college will close its doors.
The plans to close the college in New Hampshire came as a shock to the community.
“I was kind of shocked just because it's been here forever. But at the same time I had heard a few rumors that it wasn't doing well,” said Valerie Morrison who lives in Lebanon.
“It’s pretty awful,” said Melissa Laverack who works in Lebanon.
“I mean obviously it's got a lot of value in the town and to find out it's closing down is pretty shocking,” said Ethan Lampman who lives in Lebanon.
The school was open for nearly six decades. But Dr. Ron Biron, the President of the College announced he was canceling the fall semester that was set to start next week. Biron says this is just the beginning the school will soon close permanently.
“It’s sad but true,” said Dr. Biron.
Biron says when he was hired two years ago enrollment was low and the private school was not making money; it doesn't get any state or federal dollars. And since then it's been an uphill battle.
“All in all we have about a $2.3 million dollar debt. And roughly 50, less than 60 full time students, a lot of part timers but just not enough to in the end to support our decision and my decision to move forward with this fall term,” said Dr. Biron.
Many people we spoke with say the college has a great central location in downtown Lebanon. And now once it closes the next closes community college is about 30 minutes away in Claremont.
“I guess it’s kind of sad for local people who don't have that option anymore,” said Morrison.
“Gas is not cheap and travel is kind of dangerous sometimes I-89's not the best highway especially in the winter,” said Laverack.
Biron says his first priority is to make sure all the current students are able to finish their degrees. The school may some classes to students who are almost done with their degrees or help place them into a similar program at a different local college.
“It's sad it’s heartbreaking but realistically we have to really see what the best plan of action is for everybody and for the school and for the students and that's something that we are taking,” said Dr. Biron.
Biron says after the students are all situated the next step is to help the staff find new jobs as well.
Biron says before his time, the college bought an adjacent building with the hopes of expanding, but that plan never came through. So now the future of both of the buildings in downtown Lebanon is up to the bank.
The testing center will still be open for exams until further notice.