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Hilbert College Acquires Valley College, Will Double Online Offerings

Having bought a small, for-profit career-focused school with campuses in Ohio and West Virginia, a private Franciscan college in New York will double their online programs in fields such as cybersecurity and business.

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(TNS) — Hilbert College's plan to acquire a small career college with campuses in West Virginia and Ohio came to fruition Wednesday, with Hilbert's new nonprofit affiliate, Franciscan Services, taking ownership of Valley College.

Hilbert President Michael Brophy declined to say how much Hilbert spent to acquire Valley.

"The value of this is far beyond money," he said.

The deal will double the number of online programs for both schools, which will continue to operate independently while forging "vertical pathways" for students to build their educations in fields such as health care, business and cybersecurity.

Hilbert, a private, nonprofit four-year Franciscan school with about 900 students — 150 of them in 10 online degree programs — announced in January it had agreed to acquire Valley, a for-profit career-focused school serving 1,000 students, more than half in nine online programs.

Both schools grew their enrollment by 20 percent in the past year, a big achievement for small private schools struggling to compete with larger public colleges and universities and each other.

Brophy said Valley specializes in classes for adults looking to enter a new career and offers mostly certificate diplomas and associate's degrees, while Hilbert offers bachelor's and master's degrees in several related fields.

For example, Valley has more of a focus on nursing, as well as allied health services, such as medical billing and medical assistance, while Hilbert offers bachelor's and master's in public health and health administration, he said.

The two schools are accredited by separate agencies — Hilbert by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and Valley by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges — and will operate independently under Franciscan Services while seeking to consolidate functions such as enrollment and marketing right away, Brophy said.

Brophy said Valley College's owner and CEO, Tony Palmieri, retired Wednesday.

Hilbert's new "Hi, Valley College Students and Alumni" web page launched Wednesday and allows Valley students to apply for Hilbert classes, and vice versa. It will take longer to streamline a cross-registration process for concurrent programs at both because Valley's online offerings start every three weeks, while Hilbert's start every eight weeks, Brophy said.

Employees at both schools — about 100 each — and their dependents will immediately be able to take advantage of tuition waiver benefits at either college, Brophy said.

Brophy said when Hilbert began looking for an opportunity to expand by acquiring another small, private school, its biggest concern was fulfilling its Franciscan mission of "service to those most needy."

"Valley is a for-profit career college, but it has a focus on providing access to the less fortunate," he said, noting that both schools serve a high percentage of students who depend on financial aid.

©2023 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.