The Art Institute of Portland's parent company has announced it'll be closing the 55-year-old institution on December 31, 2018.
According to Dream Center Education Holdings LLC (DCEH), the company that purchased all Art Institutes in 2017, it's no longer "viable" to keep Portland's Peal District campus open—along with 17 other Art Institute campuses across the country (including San Fransisco, Philadelphia, Nashville, and Chicago).
"This decision was made for a number of reasons, including a shift in students population at the campus," wrote Claude Brown, president of the Art Institutes International, in an email sent to Portland students last week.
Students will be offered a 50 percent reduction on tuition costs for any remaining classes—or can transfer to another Art Institute location in a different city with a 50 percent reduction in all tuition costs. Students may be able to transfer to another unrelated arts school with a $5,000 voucher from the college, Brown noted.
But that answer's not good enough for the school's teachers and students.
On Friday, a group of staff and faculty at the Arts Institute Portland began a campaign to purchase the school from DCEH, in hopes of keeping the school running. "This buyout is an attempt to have independence as a college and make the college the best applied arts college it can be," reads the group's GoFundMe page.
As of today, the group's raised $1,640 toward its whopping $2 million goal.
The Arts Institute of Portland was formerly a women-only fashion school called Bassist College, founded by Norma and Donald Bassist in 1963. It was purchased and renamed by the Arts Institute's original owners in 1997. The school had 695 students enrolled in the past 2016-17 school year. According to the US Department of Education, the 4-year school's graduation rate lies at 29 percent, 13 percent lower than the national average.
According to an Arts Institute of Portland student who asked to stay anonymous, students have been largely "left in the dark" about their future since receiving Brown's email last week.
"Thousands of people are going to lose their jobs and students are out on their butts with no place to go," the student wrote in an email to the Mercury.
The Arts Institute is the second longtime Portland-area college to announce its demise this year. In May, officials representing Marylhurst College said a plummeting student population and rising costs have forced the 125-year-old institution to shut its doors.