An educational institution in Fort Smith will be closing its doors later this month.
Mike Gibbs, director for the Fort Smith and Fayetteville campuses of Webster University, a private, nonprofit university, said the Fort Smith campus lost its lease for the space in which it is located, 801 Carnall Ave. Suite 200, and it did not have the enrollment to justify moving to a different place. The closing will take place May 18, at the conclusion of the university's Spring 2 term.
The campus' landlord, the city of Fort Smith, declined to renew the lease, Gibbs said.
"Our relationship with the city of Fort Smith has been excellent over the years, and so I have nothing bad to say about the city of Fort Smith," Gibbs said. "My understanding is they needed a space for their own folks."
Fort Smith IT Director Russell Gibson said the decision not to renew the lease was made by administration to take the space for what was described to him as needed office space for city staff.
"It was a directive from (Fort Smith City Administrator) Carl Geffken," Gibson said.
The campus has been at its current location for about 20 years, Gibbs said.
"We were looking to extend our lease for two more years," Gibbs said. "That's what we wanted to do when we found out that the lease would not be renewed."
A notice on the Webster University website dated April 18 announced the closing of the Fort Smith campus and outlined degree completion options for students there. It also provided details concerning student files and academic advising after the closing, as well as where to find information about certain rights and options that are available to students when an educational institution closes.
Gibbs estimated about 15 students are currently enrolled at the Fort Smith campus. The main Webster University campus is located in St. Louis. There are about 60 extended campuses around the world. The Fort Smith campus offered two degrees: a master of business administration and a master of arts in human resource management.
"Those are the only two degrees offered that you could take classes at the campus," Gibbs said. "We offer a whole range of online degrees that ... were available at that campus. ... Those come out of St. Louis."