As was reported in several news outlets the Chinese University of Hong Kong has purchased the property formerly known as Daniel Webster College for the price of $11.6M.  And with this purchase goes any opportunity the City may have had to secure space for our School Administration, the Nashua Program at Brentwood, a potential site for Elm Street Middle School as we consider what to do with a $50M bond (not yet in the form of legislation for us to consider) for renovations.

It should be noted that the Nashua Program at Brentwood had the following recommendations identified in December 2014:

2016-2017 School Year and Beyond:
Consideration should be given to expanding the Program to no more than forty (40) students, and relocating to a new location in Nashua by August of 2016. Expansion plans should be based on three factors: the need for services to this population of students; the ability to attract tuition students from other Districts; and the avoidance of out-of-district costs by enrolling Nashua students in this Program. Locating the Program in Nashua will simplify transportation and minimize transportation costs.

and another article in 2015 indicated, again,

“the district hopes to find a suitable location in Nashua to run the program after the lease in Merrimack expires.”

I saw the Mayor was celebrating some new fields at Charlotte Ave today on Facebook.  I’m glad the City has some new fields too.  This property now owned by the Chinese University of Hong Kong had athletic fields too which could have been utilized by our recreational leagues.  There were two baseball diamonds as well as a rectangular field.  The outfield of the larger baseball diamond could also be lined with a rectangular field as well.

There are so many potential City needs which could have been addressed with at least the consideration of this property.  It was not meant to be.  A majority of this Board of Aldermen thought it better to play games with the two pieces of legislation I proposed.  The first, which they let go to committee before killing it was a feasibility study to determine if the campus would be suitable for our many needs.  There was no cost associated with this legislation.

The second piece of legislation was the Bond Resolution which was necessary for us to send to committee and have a Public Hearing.  First, the president of the Board sent it to several committees which elongated the process of an already tight timeframe.  And then, the nail in the coffin, nine (9) members of the Board of Aldermen would not even schedule a Public Hearing.

I hope and pray that this property continues to be used in an educational capacity.


Monitor staff
Thursday, October 26, 2017

The possibility that the Chinese University of Hong Kong will take over the defunct Daniel Webster College in Nashua and turn it into a branch of the Asian college could open up a new chapter in New Hampshire’s long history of higher education.

“I think you can safely say it would be a first for New Hampshire,” said Mike Vlacich, president of the New Hampshire College and University Council. “But it’s premature to say. … We have reached out to their attorney to introduce ourselves and get more information about what their plans are for New Hampshire.”

The Chinese University of Hong Kong was the winning bidder for the defunct college, which shut down in May after years of financial problems as a non-profit college and a tumultuous few years of ownership by for-profit ITT Educational Services, Inc., which went bankrupt last year.

A federal bankruptcy judge has approved the purchase by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which said it wants to open a satellite campus on the Nashua campus.

If the university goes ahead with the $11.6 million purchase and applies to become an accredited, degree-granting university that holds classes in New Hampshire, it would be the first foreign school ever to do so.

The former Chester College in the town of Chester was bought by Jiahui Educational Group, part of a Chinese conglomerate, and has been turned into a summer academy for high schoolers, but is not being used as a university.

The Hellenic American University, based in Nashua and affiliated with Hellenic College in Athens, Greece, is accredited in New Hampshire and enrolls students in the state, but doesn’t hold undergraduate classes here. It does offer English as a second language certificate and a masters of business administration in the state.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong would be the first new university in New Hampshire since tiny Thomas More College of Liberal Arts was created in Merrimack in 1978.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, founded in 1963, says it has about 29,000 students and is pushing to expand worldwide. It offers a full slate of academic degrees but does not appear to have any educational facilities outside Hong Kong.

“We’re excited with what’s happening in Nashua right now, between Rivier University, the community college … and Southern New Hampshire University,” Vlacich said. “We’re seeing another region of New Hampshire developing a strong higher education cluster. Once we learn more about this new institution we’ll have a better sense about what potential contribution they can give to New Hampshire.”

Daniel Webster College was founded in 1965 as an aviation institute, and for most of its history its identity was closely linked to the Nashua Airport, which is next to the campus.

Financial problems led to Daniel Webster College being sold in 2009 to ITT Technical Institutes. ITT ran into a crackdown on for-profit institutions by the U.S. Department of Education, which cut off the school’s access to financial aid, leading to ITT’s 2016 bankruptcy.

Manchester-based SNHU took over operations of Daniel Webster College for the remainder of the 2016-2017 academic year, but chose not to buy the 53-acre campus from ITT.

SNHU was one of several bidders in the bankruptcy auction, and while it didn’t buy the campus as a whole, it did buy the school’s flight center and hangar on the airport grounds, as well as the control tower, for $410,000.

(David Brooks can be   reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)