Students grappling with next moves as Hiwassee College set to close at end of semester

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Hiwassee College will close at the end of the spring 2019 semester due to financial reasons.

According to a release from the college, the Board of Trustees voted Thursday to close the institution on May 10.

The college in Madisonville, Tenn., was founded in 1849 and offered associate and four-year degrees. It has been closely tied to the Methodist Church since its founding and has been officially operated by the Holston Conference since 1937.

“Growing marketplace trends including substantially discounted or highly subsidized public education, changes in demographics, our rural location, and declining enrollment have combined to produce an unsustainable economic model,” read the release.

Dr. Robin Tricoli, President of Hiwassee College, told WATE 6 On Your Side this abrupt closing is not completely unexpected. 

“It’s just very similar to a death. Everyone is in the midst of the grieving process.”

Currently, 225 students are enrolled full-time. Thirty-three students are set to graduate this spring.

There are still many unknowns, despite that, Dr. Tricoli saying their number one focus is the students. 

“Beginning on Monday, and probably everyday next week, various institutions and sister institutions will be here to talk with them about transferring their credits, about graduating, they’re called ‘teach out’ programs.’

We’re told students graduating in May will receive their transcripts and diplomas.

“Student loans, those are loans that no matter where you are, you carry with you. Scholarships, we have scholarships that will carry with some students that were specifically for some programs. It’s our responsibility to make sure that institutions accept the student and the scholarship together,” said Dr. Tricoli.

Many students say they’re heartbroken and confused on where to go now that their college is closing.

“I don’t know. I don’t know yet. I want to play basketball and continue my career somewhere but where is still up in the air,” said Hailey Browning, a junior at Hiwassee College.

Other students tell us while they work on figuring everything out, they’re relying on faith.

“God’s got a bigger plan for it all. What comes for me next is just between me and Him and I just need to listen to Him and follow what He wants me to do,” said Jordan Gannon, a freshman at Hiwassee College.

“Our campus community is a top priority at this difficult time so we will work diligently to assist students to transition to other institutions and to serve as references for faculty and staff seeking career opportunities,” said Rev. Dr. Tim Jones, director of communications for the Holston Conference.

Both Roane State Community College and Pellissippi State Community College announcing, on Friday, their efforts to help displaced Hiwassee College students.

For those interested in applying at Roane State, you can contact Jim McDaniel in their Admissions Office at (865) 354-3000 ext. 2362 or mcdanieljc@roanestate.edu.

A full list of Pellissippi State programs is available at www.pstcc.edu/catalog.

PSCC’s Admissions Office is open Monday through Thursay from 8am to 6pm and on Friday from 8am to 4:30pm. For questions or more information, you can email admissions@pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

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