The Art Institute of Pittsburgh has undertaken mass layoffs of administrative staff, sources told WESA. Those who lost their jobs include everyone working in admissions and career services. The human relations and information technology departments were also hard hit.
“It’s almost like at the last days whenever the Rapture happens, it’s like one minute someone’s right next to you and the next minute they’re gone,” said alumnus Andrew Coleman of Stanton Heights, who graduated in December. “This really has the students and other faculty and staff kind of in a worry mode, like what’s going on.”
Coleman said he was at the school on Monday to visit with former professors and attend a student council meeting. He said the layoffs were a hot topic of conversation among students, faculty and staff.
The school’s parent company, Dream Center Education Holdings, did not respond to multiple requests for comment over the course of several days.
The company notified staff via e-mail last week that it would be entering into federal receivership, in part to begin “restructuring the vast amount of debt and overhead we inherited when we acquired the school systems.” Several other colleges owned by Dream Center also entered into receivership, according to the e-mail.
Dream Center purchased the Art Institutes from the Education Management Corporation in 2017. Two years prior, Education Management was ordered by the federal government to pay nearly $100 million in a landmark settlement. Then-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the company falsely obtained federal and state funding and lied about paying recruiters who used predatory practices.
Thirty campuses owned by Dream Center closed in 2018, according to a report from Inside Higher Ed.
However, Coleman is still optimistic and said he hopes the school stays open. He said he loved his experience at the school and worries about his friends who still have to finish their degrees.
“If they’re trying to save money, but they keep getting rid of all the good people that are keeping the school running, once they get to a comfortable spot, you’re going to come back and there’s not going to be a school,” Coleman said.