The Ohio branch of Nyack College will be closing its doors next summer due to poor enrollment rates and location but a Nyack provost remains optimistic with the school's overall outlook.
Speaking to The Christian Post Wednesday, David Turk, provost of Nyack's New York campus, said the Miami Valley branch faced too much competition from other evangelical liberal arts colleges and seminaries in the area which led to lower than expected enrollment rates.
The Miami Valley branch was located in Fairhaven Church in Dayton, Ohio. But the state already has Ashland Theological Seminary and Wilberforce University while Asbury Theological Seminary is nearby in Wilmore, Ken.
"It was market that we didn't enter advisably," commented Turk.
Students at the Ohio branch will have until June 2009 to finish their degrees and can complete their courses online if needed.
Nyack College established the Dayton extension site in 2002, anticipating at least 50 students to enroll toward its seminary, Alliance Theological Seminary, and 90-100 students for Adult Degree Completion Program, Turk said. In the fall of 2007, the branch brought in only 10 seminary students and 75 for adult education, according to the college's web site.
Turk said the school knew the branch would not be viable when only 15 seminary students enrolled in the first year.
Despite the closing of the Miami Valley site, Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary continue to report climbing enrollment rates. The number of combined full-time students from both schools climbed in 2007 to 1,690 from 1,597 in 2006. Over the past 10 years, ATS has more than doubled in size, Turk said.
"We're the only evangelical college and seminary in the New York metro area," stated Turk. "We have a tremendous market here. Our programs continue to grow here."
Turk, who has been involved with Nyack College for over 30 years, said he was appointed to provost after he grew the NY extension program to over 1,000 students.
Based on his experience and talking with deans of other evangelical seminaries, Turk observes that other evangelical seminaries are growing while older mainline protestant seminaries are beginning to suffer enrollment shortage.
He thinks the growth in enrollment rates at Nyack has something to do with the "growth of the megachurch movement."
Many aging baby boomers, according to Turk, are changing their careers and going into ministry or want further theological education.
Nyack College was founded as the Missionary Training Institute in New York City in 1882 by Christian evangelist Albert B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.