N.M. Art School Won’t Take New Students

SANTA FE, N.M. — The future of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design is in doubt after negotiations for the sale of the school to an Asian company broke down.

While interim President Maria Puzziferro is downplaying the option of closing, the for-profit school has decided not to accept any new students for the coming academic year.

“I wouldn’t say this is a step toward closing,” Puzziferro said. She then said the university may consider closing but would not shut down suddenly. Students would be able to complete their degrees, she said.

The Santa Fe school is owned by Laureate International Universities. The city leases the campus to the university for $2.2 million a year. Laureate had hoped to sell its assets to Raffles Education Corp. of Singapore, but the deal stalled.

The nonprofit Higher Learning Commission postponed approving the transfer of the school to Raffles late last year, leading to a breakdown in negotiations. The Higher Learning Commission accredits colleges and universities in 19 states.

“We couldn’t see a clear pathway to approval anytime in the near future,” Puzziferro said of the deal after the commission wanted more information about both parties in the sale.

Steve Kauffman, a spokesman for the Higher Learning Commission, said Wednesday that university administrators hadn’t notified the commission that the sale was off.

A letter sent to students on Wednesday assured them that the campus would stay open and that the college was still making plans for the summer term and the next academic year.

Not all students were encouraged.

“There’s still a little uncertainty, and everyone’s a little on edge,” said Ozzie Burk, who is studying digital arts. “Everyone’s still trying to process it and not jump to any conclusions.”

Carlos Moreno, 19, is finishing his first year in the business arts management program. He said he is worried he won’t be able to finish degree and is looking at other schools.

“It’s pretty much a year wasted,” he said.

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