Should NH Institute of Art and SNHU Merge?

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NHIA residential building at 88 Lowell Street.
NHIA residential building at 88 Lowell Street.
Public meeting set for July 2 at 5:30 p.m.

> UPDATE 7/3/14: Click here for more on the July 2 meeting, from NH Public Radio.

Should the New Hampshire Institute of Art merge with Southern NH University?

That is the question currently on the table, an idea that would  “preserve” NHIA programs while giving students the extended services of SNHU, including library, fitness and athletic facilities and other SNHU campus-based resources, according to a recent post on the NHIA site by acting President Rick Strawbridge (see full post below).

Currently the two institutions have a Memo of Understanding. They are looking for public input during a town hall style meeting set for July 2 at the NHIA French Building Rotunda, located at 148 Concord St., starting at 5:30 p.m.

 June 19, 2014
The NH Institute of Art has been engaged in some exciting discussions regarding a potential merger between the Institute and Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). While these discussions are still in the early stages, I do want to take this opportunity to let you know where these discussions stand and what this could mean for you, as a student at the Institute.
On June 16th, both boards for the Institute and SNHU approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to intelligently, strategically and realistically explore what a merger between our two institutions would look like and if a merger would be a good fit—for both schools.
First and foremost, we go into these discussions with the primary goal of not only preserving, but enhancing the educational experience of a student artist and writer. SNHU, which is located just a few miles from the Institute, is a highly successful institution and employs an organizational model that has multiple units, each with its own distinct culture, marketing efforts, branding, and delivery models.
We believe the Institute could nicely fit into such a model, keeping its identity and culture intact, but benefitting from the resources of a larger institution within our community. It is important that you know a merger would not involve the Institute being subsumed by SNHU, but instead living comfortably under the SNHU umbrella.
SNHU’s interest in us comes from our reputation of quality, our strong presence in downtown Manchester, and their interest in expanding their fine arts offerings beyond their flourishing music program and newly blossoming performing arts program.  As I was also told, SNHU is interested in creativity as a critical thinking skill and how they might integrate arts into disciplines where one might not expect to see them—something we do very well here, as you know.
We have already established that if a merger were to take place, our name, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, will not change. We are all committed to preserving the name, culture and honored tradition that we have built over many decades. However, student would have access to the many resources that the SNHU campus and brand has to offer including library services, fitness and athletic facilities and many other campus-based resources, as well as a robust array of new opportunities such as expanded study abroad sites.
Going forward, we would be interested in collaboration between programs and faculty and the growth of our existing and new concentrations, but those talks lie far ahead and there is much that would need to take place before those discussions could become a reality.    
I want you all to know that my early meetings with SNHU have been very positive. I have been impressed with their forward thinking, intensity, and internal cooperation, along with their relaxed approach. I believe that this is a very positive development for us.  This would be a move to a more sustainable future for our Institute of 116 years.
Despite all of that, I know that change is frightening and difficult.  I encourage you to ask questions and express your concerns, as well as your positive thoughts and feelings.  Please feel free to drop by, give me a call, or send me an email, at any time to further discuss this.

About this Author


Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!