Is UU’s closure really a surprise?

There’s been much discussion about Urbana University’s decision to permanently close at the end of the spring semester. Obviously, this is a terrible blow to our community and I sincerely hope our leadership is able to rise to meet the challenge of making sure the campus is put to beneficial use.

I know many were surprised by the decision — as was I — considering the amount Franklin invested. That said, when you give it some thought, is it really all that surprising? Considering the state of our economy and gloomy population predictions for the multi-county area over the next decade, it would be difficult to achieve the enrollment growth UU needed.

To be clear, this is not a defense of the decision to close the university. I certainly wish this hadn’t happened. I am angry and sad as I am sure many of you are. I love Urbana and this is the last thing any of us wanted.

It is easy to jump to conclusions and start the blame game, but I hope we take this opportunity to assess what we value in this community and ask ourselves the tough questions. Recovering from the loss of the university and, on top of that, dealing with the fallout of this pandemic, will certainly test our resolve.

It will take all of us and it will take ambitious, creative ideas.

Justin Weller