Not from The Onion…

Ry Rivard of Inside Higher Ed reports.

A Small College’s Demise

Despite historic backing from the nation’s largest labor unions and niche offerings, the National Labor College plans to close – unable to get beyond ongoing financial difficulties, its president said Wednesday.

The college, in suburban Maryland, has a decades-long history at the heart of the American labor movement. Its collapse comes after what now seems like a poorly chosen campus renovation effort and the waning of support of its main backer, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

The closure also represents the failure of an ambitious and controversial technology project that was supposed to create one of the country’s largest online colleges.

Instead, the Labor College’s board – chaired by the national labor federation’s President Richard Trumka – directed the college’s administrators on Tuesday to figure out how to shut down the college. The timeframe for the shutdown is unclear.

“It’s a huge loss, there’s no question about it,” said Trumka’s deputy chief of staff, Thea Lee. “If it were at all possible we would maintain it.”

In the wake of the board’s decision, the current president and the college’s founding president have pointed to now seemingly imprudent campus management decisions that involve John Sweeney, a former head of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

About 40 percent of the college’s operating budget comes from the federation. Its students are mostly union members and their families looking to complete an online bachelor’s degree in union-related fields, although the Labor College offers certificates and associate degrees. It had about 750 degree-seeking students last year taught by six full-time faculty members and just over 40 adjuncts, according to college and government records.