Phases of the merger between the University of Findlay and Bluffton University

By Mackala Krichbaum,

As the University of Findlay and Bluffton University move forward with a proposed merger, the process will include four phases with the help of a transition team.

Dr. Christine Denecker runs the Center for Teaching Excellence and is an English professor. Dr. Raymond McCandless sits in the Cabinet at the University of Findlay and has experience in Information Technology. Together they work as Transition Team Project Leaders.

Due Diligence is the official name of phase one. In this phase, the focus was to compile a report of data at both institutions and present it to the board of trustees at each institution.

“There was a third-party vendor (Higher Ed Consolidation Solutions) that did a report. They studied Bluffton University, the University of Findlay, (and) the report was done with grant money,” Denecker said. “This was done prior to the announcement and what they did was lookover the scope of everything, like finances, the histories of the institutions, their missions, and all of that. They put together a report and their report said that they believed from their vantage point a merger would be a good idea moving forward.”

The grant money came from Transformational Partnerships Fund.

Once the Board of Trustees voted to move on with the process of the merger, the Presidents from both institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding and then made a formal announcement publishing the merger.

“It is merging operations of Bluffton into University of Findlay, but a lot of decisions need to be made along the way too, in terms of you know what are the strengths and weakness of both institutions,” McCandless said. “And by doing that kind of analysis, the intent is to create something stronger along the way.”

Phase two is Alignment with Continued Due Diligance. In this phase, both institutions will begin to align their beliefs.

“Below the presidents are four people, Ray and I from Findlay and then two from Bluffton that are the transition team project leaders,” Denecker said. Bluffton leaders include Claire Clay, Director of Public Relations and Enrollment Operations.

During phase two, outside organizations have to approve this merger. These can include, the Higher Learning Commission, The Ohio Department of Higher Education and the U.S. Department of Education.

“Another important part too is making sure all the accrediting agencies and government bodies end up approving of this,” McCandless said. “Both schools are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.”

Phase three is the Implementation stage. This is the step after being approved by the various outside organizations. Bluffton University and the University of Findlay would then legally become merged.

The final phase of the merger is phase four, Launch. In this phase, the University of Findlay and Bluffton Univeristy begin working as one. With this phase, we are looking at a timeline for the Fall semester of 2025 to make it an official merger with all completed steps.

“The idea is that everybody would be under one umbrella of operations, so if there were majors or courses or whatever that you wanted to take advantage of on the Bluffton campus you would absolutely have that opportunity and vice versa,” said Dr. Denecker.

Information on the phases and merger of Findlay and Bluffton Universities can be found on the official merger website.