Virginia Intermont College, with dwindling enrollment, intends to merge with Fla. school

A private liberal arts college in southwestern Virginia with dwindling enrollment announced Friday it intends to merge with a larger university in Florida.

Virginia Intermont College, in Bristol near the Tennessee border, reported to state authorities that it had 378 students in the fall term — an enrollment decline of 35 percent since 2010. It is one of many small private colleges that have struggled with recruiting in recent years amid upheaval in the market nationwide.

On Friday, the college announced that it plans to unite with Webber International University, based in Babson Park, Fla. A memorandum of understanding calls for the merger to take effect in July.

Webber International is described on a federal Web site as a nonprofit university that offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Its fall enrollment was reported as 717 in 2012. According to a Virginia Intermont news release, Webber International recently merged with St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, N.C. The enrollment at that campus in fall 2012, according to a federal Web site, was 489.

Virginia Intermont, founded in 1884, touts its equine programs and liberal arts curriculum. Tuition and fees are listed as $24,542 for this school year, not counting room and board.

St. Paul’s College, a private institution in Lawrenceville, Va., announced its closure last year amid declining enrollment and financial struggles.

Nick Anderson covers higher education for The Washington Post. He has been a writer and editor at The Post since 2005.
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