A prominent Philadelphia university, the University of the Arts, announced its unexpected closure on Friday. This private arts institution, one of the nation’s oldest dedicated to arts and music, will cease operations on June 7, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The sudden decision stunned faculty and staff, particularly as the school had already admitted students for the fall 2024 semester.

Officials cited an urgent, undisclosed financial crisis as the reason for the shutdown. “Under extraordinary circumstances, we diligently assessed the urgent crisis presented and pathways to keep the institution open,” the board stated. “Despite our best efforts, we could not ultimately identify a viable path for the institution to remain open and in the service of its mission.”

Before the university’s announcement, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education had already revoked its accreditation, effective June 1. The school’s financial troubles included a significant decline in student enrollment, dropping 44% over the last decade to just 1,149 students last year.

“With a cash position that has steadily weakened, we could not cover significant, unanticipated expenses,” the school explained. Despite swift action, bridging the necessary financial gaps proved impossible.

A virtual meeting is scheduled for June 3 to address the closure and answer questions. The university’s closure leaves a large vacancy in Philadelphia’s Center City, where its “Avenue of the Arts” on Broad Street housed many of its buildings, valued at approximately $94 million.

City Council members expressed shock and anger over the decision. However, Councilman Mark Squilla remains hopeful, suggesting potential partnerships to keep the school open. “As a Philadelphia treasure, we want to look at all options available to us to see how we can help,” he said.