A Shell of Its Former Self?
Despite the Board’s insistence on pursuing every possible avenue for King’s to reopen in the future, some students and faculty question if The King’s College they left behind would be the same school they would eventually come back to if it were to reopen.
“Do I have any reason to expect King’s to start offering classes again? Sure. Obviously it’s logically, metaphysically, and physically possible,” Blander said. “And the new board seems to have a high degree of determination. But losing accreditation, even though we are appealing, means it will be an uphill battle. Based on the timeline for bringing on new students and faculty, especially for marketing and admissions processes, it’s hard to imagine how King’s could reopen before the 2025-26 academic year. We need to raise money for the short-term and the long-term, and we can’t keep operating at such a massive deficit.”
The Board’s efforts — students and faculty have said — are surely admirable, but reopening a college such as King’s is no small feat in New York City. Costs are extremely high for housing, salaries and operations. King’s would have to regain accreditation. Private, liberal arts colleges with high tuition costs are finding it harder to enroll students amid rising student debt. Colleges in America face a demographic cliff in 2025 as birthrates dropped after the 2008-2010 financial crisis.
“The board knows all this, all too well.” Blander said. “That collection of issues (other than accreditation) has been hanging over the college for years. Now it’s even more complicated and challenging. But they’ve only had about 100 days to work on these problems. How long are they willing to exert the massive effort to reopen? Who knows? Will any of our old faculty still be available, or even want to return? Who knows? At that point, you also have to worry about the DNA of the college. After all, a board works at a macro-level to develop, preserve, and extend the mission of the college. But the faculty are the ones who carry out the mission daily and term by term. We’ve already lost some of our most talented faculty to other schools. For their sake, I hope that everyone who wants a new academic job will find one. If that happens, who would be left, even if the college reopens?”
The college had open positions for president and provost in recent years. A politics professor named Dr. Matt Parks served as interim provost the past two years as King’s conducted a search for those positions. Dr. Parks left the role in May to take a job in the private sector. Business program chair Dr. Kimberly Reeve then became interim provost.
“In this last, tough semester, I added a couple more roles, including development director (had the privilege of helping to raise $1.2M in 12 weeks from our generous parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends), and most recently, interim provost,” Dr. Reeve said on LinkedIn recently. “It’s sad to be ending with uncertainty over our future, but I know the legacy of King’s lives on in each student, faculty and staff member, alum, and parent.”
Dr. Reeve spearheaded a significant amount of the college’s financial planning and communication, largely via emails and Community Updates, throughout the Spring 2023 semester. Reeve also recently announced she will be dean of the business program at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, N.J. Dr. Reeve handed the interim provost title and duties to Dr. Harry Bleattler, a professor of Media, Culture and the Arts.
“I love The King’s College and aim to do everything I can to help the college succeed,” Bleattler said. “Working here has been my life’s calling. When I retire, I want to do so knowing I gave The King’s College everything I had. I can tell you that the board is working overtime to implement a long-term solution. I know this sounds like a broken record, as we’ve been hearing this for the last six months, but they really are working diligently to save the college.”