Reputation Management for Private Liberal Arts College Closing Its Doors

The Opportunity

Newbury College, a private liberal arts college in Brookline, decided to close its doors in December 2018 due to financial constraints. BG was hired to oversee reputation management and media relations, while properly messaging the closure to current students, accepted students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. In a time where multiple college closures have occurred and disrupted student and family plans, the goal was to keep the focus student-centric and manage the process and communications as openly and conscientiously as possible.

The Strategy

BG focused on transparency, so the Newbury College community would feel the communications are honest and supportive during a turbulent time. Each piece of content and all the messaging positioned students as Newbury’s top priority and stressed the various ways the college was helping students transfer to new schools and transition in general. When the initial furor died down, BG then helped top Newbury officials pivot to share the lessons learned and tell the part of the story that could be helpful for other colleges that find themselves in this situation.

The Result

From the very first news story, students, politicians, and influencers credited Newbury for the way they handled a difficult situation. BG was able to get the school’s president featured in publications such as The Atlantic, Chronicle, and WBUR as an education expert and thought leader who provided vital perspective and context as to what went wrong and how colleges can help fix problems to avoid a similar fate.