An expanding Philadelphia university is taking over Lancaster County-basedPennsylvania College of Health Sciences.
- The Lancaster-area school, which has nearly 2,000 students, has agreed to become part of Saint Joseph’s University, the second acquisition for the Philly school.
- The merger, expected to close in January 2024, is designed to create more opportunities for students at Pennsylvania College while extending the reach of St. Joe’s beyond Philadelphia.
- The merger also gives St. Joe’s a menu of in-demand educational programs in nursing and other health professions, which is part of the school’s strategy for reversing broader trends in college enrollment, according to St. Joe’s spokesperson Gail Benner.
- College enrollment has been falling in the U.S. for more than a decade.
Will the name change: Yes, according to Benner.
- The Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences moniker will be replaced by Saint Joseph’s University, but exactly how the Lancaster school’s programs will fit organizationally has yet to be determined.
- St. Joe’s recently wrapped up a merger with Philadelphia’s University of the Sciences, which also added health programs, including programs for pharmacists and physician assistants.
- St. Joe’s has nearly 8,000 students.
What else is next: Following the merger, St. Joe’s plans to preserve Pennsylvania College’s longstanding ties to Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, which employs more than 800 students from the college.
- That includes maintaining a pathway to health care jobs for Lancaster-area residents and reserving clinical placements for St. Joe’s nursing students at Penn Medicine.
- In addition, LG Health and St. Joe’s will collaborate to evaluate and adapt educational offerings to meet the health care workforce demands of Central PA, according to a press release.
The background: Pennsylvania College was born in 1903 as a nursing school established by what was then called Lancaster General Hospital.
- The school began adding other programs in 1949 and became Lancaster Institute for Health Education in 1995, according to an online timeline.
- The school became the Lancaster General College of Nursing and Health Sciences before settling on Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in 2009.
- Long based in Lancaster city, the college moved to 850 Greenfield Road in 2016.
The primer: Facing declining enrollment and following the financial strains of Covid-19, colleges and universities are emerging as a hotbed of M&A activity.
- But consolidation is not just confined to private schools.
- In Pennsylvania, schools operated by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education have merged to reduce overhead costs.
- And Penn State is planning to consolidate its law school campuses in Carlisle and State College.