MANCHESTER — Southern New Hampshire University is in “exploratory discussions” with the New Hampshire Institute of Art on a “possible merger,” according to a memo obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
“We this week signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding that signals our mutual and good faith effort to work towards an eventual merger, though such a move will require formal votes of approval by both Boards of Trustees,” SNHU President Paul LeBlanc told faculty and staff in the memo dated Thursday. “We hope to have a final decision by September 1st.”
One suggested name, he said, is “The New Hampshire Arts Institute — The Arts College of Southern New Hampshire University.”
Discussions to date have taken place at the board level “but are now moving to the next level and will involve faculty and staff,” LeBlanc said.
New Hampshire Institute of Art has about 470 students and 20 full-time faculty in Manchester. SNHU has about 1,000 employees working downtown, either at the Millyard or at 1230 Elm St., in addition to its main campus on the Manchester-Hooksett line.
“A merger with NHIA would instantly expand SNHU’s offerings in the arts and help fill out our curriculum. It would give us a greater downtown presence,” LeBlanc said. “Some of its programs might do well online. NHIA would immediately benefit from our marketing and recruitment muscle, a broader range of curricular offerings for its students, as well as access to our facilities.”