MCA Closing Information and FAQs for Students

Memphis College of Art Closing Information for Students

The Board of Directors of the College, facing declining enrollment, overwhelming real estate debt, and no viable long-term plan for financial sustainability, has voted to stop recruiting new students, effective immediately, and begin making plans to close the College.

MCA will begin the orderly dissolution of MCA’s real estate and other assets to fund the College’s debt obligations and other liabilities, including providing sufficient funding to serve existing students who remain at MCA. At the conclusion of fulfilling its obligations to existing students who remain in good standing, MCA will close. The precise period of time for this wind-down (“teach-out”) has yet to be determined; the College anticipates it will last through May 2020.

“It is with great sadness that we move forward with this decision,” said MCA Board Chair Henry P. Doggrell.

MCA knows that announcement is a shock, and that you have lots of questions. Please read the Frequently Asked Questions below for more details about your particular situation. MCA’s main focus now is helping each student decide about his or her future, and MCA will be meeting one-on-one with everyone soon. MCA’s goal is to be as helpful as possible to our current students, and maintain a positive learning environment for them as MCA moves through this transition period. Contact Cathy Wilson, VP for Academic Affairs, at with any questions you might have as this process unfolds.

The Board vote resulted from a long process that eventually determined that an independent, private fine arts and design college is no longer financially sustainable in Memphis. The College’s situation is not unique – small private colleges face financial challenges across the country. Over the last months, we have cut costs to operate as efficiently as possible, but it wasn’t sufficient to sustain operations beyond the current academic year without continued significant community support.

During the “teach-out” period, MCA will continue its long-standing tradition of offering Community Education programs, including the Fashion Certificate Program, summer camps, and adult art classes. Many of the College’s community partnerships will continue as well. MCA’s popular Holiday Bazaar will take place as scheduled on November 17-18, with net proceeds funding existing student scholarships.

“This has been a heartbreaking process,” said MCA Interim President Laura Hine. “But we remain proud of the creative energy MCA artists have long brought to Memphis, and are eternally grateful to the donors and foundations who have sustained us throughout our 81-year history. The tremendous value of the artistic contributions made by MCA faculty, students, and graduates, over many decades, simply can’t be captured in words.”

“In the immediate term our attention is focused on the internal MCA family – our students, our faculty and our staff. Going forward, we will rely on the thousands of MCA alumni in Memphis and across the country to carry on the legacy of the College through their art, their creative energy, and their innovation.”

Student FAQs

1. Is MCA closing immediately?

No. We will not admit any new students and instead will focus on serving current students who remain at MCA in good academic standing. When we fulfill our obligations to these students, Memphis College of Art will close.

2. Is Memphis College of Art merging with another college?

No. Memphis College of Art is not admitting new students effective immediately and will instead dedicate its resources to its existing students.

3. How did the College get to this position?

One reason you chose MCA is because of our small size. While our size is a benefit, it is also a challenge. We face competitive and economic challenges, along with other colleges. For MCA in particular, the number of students enrolling has declined, and the real estate we purchased several years back has not been paid off. The combination of these two circumstances presents significant challenges for the College. The leadership of the College worked hard to structure a sustainable model for the future, but was unable to do so.

4. How do you plan to close the College?

MCA is working with its accrediting organizations and other counselors to develop teach-out plans for the proper close down of the College. The details of those plans are not yet finalized. Most importantly, these plans will be driven by an overarching focus on your welfare.

5. What is a teach-out?

A teach-out is a way to provide a continuation of academic programming over a period of years as a college winds down and moves toward a closure. In this case, MCA will provide the faculty, facilities, resources, and student support necessary to deliver MCA academic programs for the rest of this academic year and anticipated through May 2020. Representatives from Academic Affairs will be meeting with students, one-on-one, to discuss and develop individual academic plans. Nothing changes for the students scheduled to graduate in May 2018. It is anticipated that MCA will develop an internal teach-out plan to serve students (current sophomores and juniors) who are able to graduate on or before May 2020. It is anticipated that an external teach-out plan for transfers will occur for freshmen who cannot earn enough credit hours to graduate on or before May 2020. MCA will stage a College Transfer Fair on November 9 for the benefit of students who wish to transfer to another school.

6. If MCA doesn’t have money now, how will it carry on its operations until it closes?

MCA has valuable real estate assets that will be sold. The proceeds will be dedicated to meet MCA’s obligations. We will also rely on the continued generosity of donors to help MCA as we serve those students who remain at MCA.

7. What will happen to MCA buildings and resources?

MCA buildings and resources will remain available and operational through the current academic year. MCA will begin the sale of its real estate and we will keep you posted as changes are set to occur. Rust Hall will remain the main campus building during our teach-out period.

8. After the teach-out, what’s going to happen to Rust Hall in Overton Park?

We are working with all stakeholders to determine the best disposition of Rust Hall in order to preserve this iconic building and ensure it maintains its prominent and important place in Overton Park.

9. As a student, how will this affect me on a day-to-day basis?

Your student experience will remain unchanged after we get over the initial shock of this announcement. In subsequent academic years, our student body will continue to shrink as students graduate and/or transfer to other colleges, and faculty and classes will reflect the needs of our student body.

10. Will my current classes continue?

Yes. Current fall classes will continue as scheduled. Registration for 2018 spring and summer classes opened last week and registration will be extended to November 3 to allow for the individual, one-on-one academic advising meetings. The advising lunch will be rescheduled to October 31.

11. Will my parents be notified?

Yes, an email and a letter from MCA will be sent to your parent(s) today telling them about the Board of Trustee’s decision to not admit new students and to close the College after a teach-out period. MCA will advise your parent(s) in general about the anticipated teach-out plans and of your option to transfer to another college or university should you choose to do so.

12. If it is best for me to transfer, will you help me transfer to another college?

Yes. MCA has scheduled a College Transfer Fair in Rust Hall for Thursday, November 9. A College Transfer Fair is very similar to a regular college fair. Representatives from other art colleges and state universities will be here with information about their programs, campus life, and admissions policies for transfer students, specifically. This will help you understand what options are available.

13. If I transfer, will all my credits transfer?

The college you may want to transfer to always decides upon acceptance of transfer credits. While MCA cannot guarantee transfer of credits, our academic leadership and faculty advisers will work on your behalf if you decide to leave MCA and transfer to another school.

14. If I want to transfer, how do I obtain my academic records/transcripts?

MCA maintains your records and we are here to help you with that process. MCA has partnered with Parchment for onine ordering of transcripts. To request a copy of your official transcript, please click here for more information.

15. If it costs me more to go to another college, will MCA pay the difference?


16. Will my teacher(s) be here during the teach out?

The goal is to keep as many faculty as we can, based upon the needs of our students. Decisions relative to faculty will be made as we progress through the teach out.

17. Will the dorms remain open?

Yes, we anticipate that student housing will be available. There will be some consolidation into fewer dorms as we move through the process of selling MCA real estate over the next several years.

18. What happens to my financial aid and institutional aid/scholarship?

Your financial aid and scholarship awards will continue as long as you maintain good academic standing with MCA. Your regular financial aid refunds will occur as in the past, in the fall and spring semesters.

19. I am on an MCA payment plan. Will it change?

Your current MCA payment plan remains the same. If you wish to transfer to another college, we will work with you to develop a reasonable payment plan for any existing balance. The MCA Business Office is here to answer your questions, or discuss your individual situation.

20. What happens to MCA clubs and student events?

It is anticipated that all MCA clubs and student events will continue as planned, including the Holiday Bazaar and other traditions like Horn Island.

21. Will the Career Develpment Office stay open?

Yes. The Career Development office will fully support students during the teach out period. All services and programs are intact and will continue as long as the college is open.

22. Am I free to discuss this news on social media or with other media?

We realize this news is likely very upsetting and sad for everyone in the MCA community, and that you will need to process your thoughts. We realize social media may provide an opportunity for you to share your feelings about this news. It’s also possible members of the media will approach you. In all of your personal communications, please be clear that you are sharing your personal views and not the official views of the College. The media should contact Mary Caywood, Associate VP Marketing & Communications, if they wish to obtain an official comment. Also, please note that you are personally liable for any content you publish. MCA and Personal Social Media Use can be found on pages 8 and 9 of the Student Handbook.

Contacts for More Information or Questions:

Memphis College of Art does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or other status protected by law. Additional Information