University of the Arts president resigns, days after closure decision

university of the arts
University of the Arts students and alumni protest the school’s sudden closure Monday, June 3, in Center City.

University of the Arts President Kerry Walk has resigned, a school spokesperson confirmed Tuesday afternoon, days after she announced the institution’s imminent and abrupt closure.

Further information about Walk’s decision to step down, and how it could affect the university’s plans to close, was not immediately available. Her resignation was first reported by the Inquirer.

Walk was appointed as UArts’ fifth president in August 2023, replacing David Yager. She previously led Marymount Manhattan College.

University of the Arts
Kerry Walk was appointed president of the University of the Arts in August.PROVIDED / UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS

Walk and board president Judson Aaron issued a statement Friday informing students, faculty and staff that the school would close June 7 because of an inability to cover “significant, unanticipated expenses.”

UArts administrators have not specified those expenses or provided a detailed explanation for the sudden closure.

A town hall meeting for the school community was planned Monday afternoon but ended up being canceled about 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. Would-be attendees were directed to submit questions through an online form.

Leaders from the United Academics of Philadelphia, a union representing UArts faculty and staff, said the school canceled a session Tuesday afternoon to begin negotiating potential severance payments and other benefits.

“This sudden resignation, announced via the media, continues the pattern of disregard and cruelty to which the University of Arts has subjected employees and students,” UAP said in a statement. “It has been five days since the abrupt decision to close with no answers or explanations.”

A GoFundMe to support faculty and staff through the union’s solidarity fund had raised more than $21,000 as of Tuesday.

Students began protesting Monday at the school’s Center City campus, and more demonstrations were planned Tuesday evening in front of Hamilton Hall.

Other colleges in the Philadelphia region and elsewhere have offered to help students interested in transferring to continue their education.

University of the Arts students and alumni protest the school’s sudden closure Monday, June 3, in Center City.JACK TOMCZUK

Drexel, La Salle, Penn State, Temple and St. Joseph’s universities, in addition to Moore College of Art and Design, are among the institutions that have stepped up, according to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

UArts’ impending closure came to light after MSCHE moved to revoke the school’s accreditation last week. The commission said it was notified of the university’s decision May 29 and took action because the school was not following its procedures for closing.

MSCHE has asked UArts to produce a transition, or “teach-out,” plan by Friday, which is the same date the college has said it will shut its doors.

Some students at Monday’s demonstration had not given up hope of saving the university through a legal appeal. And at least one law firm is soliciting participants to file a class-action lawsuit against UArts.