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June 24. 2013 6:55PM

Hesser College changes name, announces online programs

MANCHESTER — Hesser College has a new name and a new online focus.

The for-profit college, which held its 112th commencement ceremony in May, officially becomes Mount Washington College on July 1.

At a press conference announcing the name change today, representatives of the Kaplan Higher Education Group, which acquired the college in 2000, will also unveil plans for online-only associate and bachelor degree programs in business administration.

The college also hopes to offer online associate and bachelor degree programs in information technology next year, pending necessary approvals from the state and accrediting agencies.

Traditional degree programs will continue at the college’s main campus in Manchester and satellite locations in Salem, Concord, Portsmouth and Nashua. Enrollment for the national online program opens July 15, with classes starting in September.

Andrew Temte, interim president of what will soon be Mount Washington College, said the online courses have been designed with adult learners in mind.

“Time and money are two hurdles that keep many career-minded people from pursuing higher education,” he said. “The barriers are particularly high for adult learners who are working full-time, raising a family and balancing schedules while pursing a degree.”

Online offerings have become more common at many universities and colleges in the state, as they enable students to proceed at their own pace, finish their degrees in less time and save money.

“Admission will require meeting selective entrance standards,” Temte said. “This model is not for everyone, and is likely to appeal more to highly motivated, self-directed individuals, including students who have earned prior college credits.”

Annual tuition for the Mount Washington College online business program will be approximately $6,000 a year, with a four-year bachelor degree costing up to $24,000.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost for a bachelor’s degree, including room and board, is $54,400 at public institutions; $94,000 at private for-profit institutions; and $145,000 at private, nonprofit institutions.

In its last commencement ceremony as Hesser College, the school granted more than 900 degrees on May 19, including bachelors and associates.

Name change tested

Changing the name of an institution that’s been around for more than 100 years was not done without some market analysis, said Temte.

“The new name reflects our aspiration to serve students beyond Southern New Hampshire and expand our recognition as a regional institution with national reach,” he said. “We market tested the name quite heavily and it certainly is a recognizable landmark. As the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, it rang true with our market testers as being a name that connotes a substantial institution that provides high quality outcomes to students, in keeping with the Hesser tradition.”

Jacquelyn Armitage, the most recent president at Hesser, retired in early February. Temte is president of Kaplan Professional Education, part of the Kaplan Higher Education Group, and is serving on an interim basis while a national search for a permanent replacement is under way. Kaplan, Inc., is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company and its largest division.

While some colleges and universities have set up their online programs as a separate operation, Temte said Mount Washington College is taking an integrated approach.

“We feel we have very strong individuals who are providing high-quality education for our existing students on the ground and in the hybrid or blended online programs already in place, and we want to leverage that experience,” he said. “More importantly, from a cultural perspective, it’s important that we act as one Mount Washington College and not have a distinct online division versus an on-ground division.”
dsolomon@unionleader.com


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