Oak Point University shutting down in April: 'This was completely new news to us'

A private university in Chicago has announced it will shut down at the end of this semester, leaving students and teachers stunned as they prepare for final exams. 

Officials at Oak Point University, which has campuses in both Chicago and Oak Brook, surprised the school community with only three weeks' notice of the closure. 

Now, Lewis University is stepping in to support students through a ‘teach-out agreement.’  

Oak Point, which specializes in nursing and health sciences, has yet to publicly announce its closure; however, FOX 32 Chicago obtained an internal memo that hit the inboxes of students and staff members on Wednesday.

Formerly known as West Suburban Hospital School and Resurrection University, the university was established in 1914. Its Chicago location is in Wicker Park and shares space with Saint Elizabeth Hospital.

Now, many students say they are left with more questions than answers about their next steps.

"Hearing the news made me completely devastated," said Crystal Martinez, an Oak Point University student.

Along with other students, Martinez was already enrolled in summer classes at Oak Point. She says she is worried that her timeline for graduation will now be impacted.

"I think they are not being transparent," said Martinez. "This is a process, and as they were in the process, they should have notified their students."

"This was completely new news to us. We were all surprised about what was happening," echoed Manal Abuserieh, an Oak Point University student.

In an email sent on her behalf, Oak Point University President Therese Scanlan stated that "it is with a heavy heart" she must share "the university will close Friday, April 19th."

While she didn't elaborate, Scanlan added that the decision "comes in response to a series of factors that have affected the University."

"Me and my classmates work so hard to be where we’re at. Nursing school is already difficult as it is and to add this to our plate is just unacceptable," said Martinez.

Students also tell FOX 32 Chicago they weren't the only ones without a heads up.

"They didn’t notify their faculty as well," said Martinez.

"There are some instructors, professors here, that didn’t know they’d be out of a job," said Sabreen Abuserieh, an Oak Point University student.

In response to the closure, Lewis University has agreed to partner with Oak Point to ensure that students can continue their studies seamlessly and finish their degrees. 

"As a teach-out institution, students are allowed to transfer all their credit from their previous institution," said Provost Christopher Sindt, at Lewis University. "We share all the same degrees."

Sindt says that all students from Oak Point will be admitted to Lewis University, and they will not need to meet admission requirements.

Based in Romeoville, Lewis University also has a campus in Oak Brook, where most of their nursing courses are taught.

"We'll be beginning a process of advising students on Tuesday, April 2nd," said Sindt. "We'll be there on the Oak Point campus speaking with students individually, looking at their record and trying to find a pathway for them to keep going."

The Q&A session will be held at Oak Point’s Oak Brook campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, providing an opportunity for students to address their concerns regarding the transition and sort out their options.

In her memo, Scanlan also wrote: "Despite the tireless efforts of our faculty, staff, and the unwavering support of our alumni and friends, the challenges we face are beyond what we can surmount in our current form."

"In the weeks to come, we will be organizing meetings, both virtual and in person, to answer your questions, provide advice, and offer support," Scanlan added.

According to the Higher Learning Commission's website, Oak Point’s accreditation – while still current – was being monitored in the last year for low pass rates on NCLEX exams (a board examination that is required to become a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse).

Oak Point University did not respond to FOX 32 Chicago’s requests Thursday for comment on its closure.