McNally Smith College of Music closing due to lack of funds

- It’s the end of an era for the popular music school. The McNally Smith College of Music has announced it is closing after more than 30 years cultivating musical talent. 

“We are in the middle of finals,” said Mitchell Polley, a junior studying vocal performance. “Now, a lot of us need to figure out what we are doing with our lives. We need to find places to go to school and to live.”

The news comes just one day before graduation for the fall semester. The president of the St. Paul school, Harry Chalmiers, says the for-profit school had been operating in the red for some time as they experience declining enrollment and revenue. 

For nearly two years, they have been in the process of becoming a nonprofit college and seeking the necessary funding. But, Chalmiers says they've been unable to obtain that funding. 

Faculty and staff have been asked to consider finishing the term and issue grades as usual.

“This school does important work. It's just heart-breaking,” said Joe Elliott, director of the guitar program. "We won’t get paid for the first two weeks of December, or this week, or next.”

According to the school’s website, spring classes were set to begin on Jan. 5. Instead, the school's nearly 600 students and 100 faculty members will start the New Year making new career plans

In a letter, President Chalmiers said, “We are extremely proud of the educational programs we have developed and profoundly sad that we are forced to discontinue our programming."

McNally Smith is just the latest for-profit college to go out of business. This time last year, Globe University and Minnesota School of Business abruptly closed after failing to qualify for federal student aid programs. 

As for the future for students, school administrators say they have been talking with both local and national colleges where students might be able to transfer.

“Just everyone that’s watching, keep supporting the arts,” said Polley. “We need them now more than ever. This is just one of many programs that is continue to get put on the back burner.”

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