A photo of a Saint Joseph's sign at a June 1, 2022 press conference to mark the closing of its acquisition of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Saint Joseph’s University successfully acquired and integrated the University of the Sciences (USciences) in 2019 through a careful and strategic process. USciences joined Saint Joseph’s as a separately accredited institution, maintaining its unique identity, mission, and programs while gaining the resources and support of a larger university.

Key steps in closing the acquisition included:

•Due diligence: Conducting comprehensive reviews of USciences’ finances, operations, strengths, challenges, culture, and strategic fit with Saint Joseph’s priorities and mission. This ensured USciences was financially and strategically viable and the integration could achieve intended benefits.

•Shared vision: Articulating a common vision for the combined institution that honors the mission and strengths of each school. This guided collaboration rather than a “takeover” approach.

•Communication: Launching an integrated website, brand, and campus communities where students, faculty, staff, donors, and external partners could envision the potential opportunities and synergies. Messaging focused on complementary missions, programs, and resources.

•Governance: Establishing a shared governance structure with representation from each school and college. This ensured perspectives and interests of all entities were incorporated into key decisions while fostering a common strategy and direction.

•Operational alignment: Aligning policies, practices, and administrative systems to streamline operations while preserving distinct school identities, academic programs, student life offerings, etc. This balance reduced costs and inefficiencies without losing important Nuances.

•People and culture: Carefully managing transitions to leverage the talent, expertise, and passion across the institutions through reassignments, promotions, exits, and new hires. Clear communication helped address anxiety and unite staff around a shared purpose.

•Phased integration: Sequencing strategic and operational alignments in a gradual fashion, learning from experiences each phase. This iterative approach allowed continuous evolution to ensure the right pace and path forward for all stakeholders.

Today, Saint Joseph’s and USciences operate as seamlessly as possible while still honoring unique missions, identities, programs, and campuses. They benefit from shared resources but maintain separate accreditation and brands to meet differentiated goals.

By following a strategic, inclusive, and phased process, Saint Joseph’s successfully achieved its acquisition aims while continuing to foster the key qualities and missions of each institution. They created an enhanced whole through a combination of shared gains and preserved Nuances. This case provides an inspiring model of purpose-driven integration in higher education. With hard work and the right approach, the potential exists to achieve an “acquisition by integration” that benefits students, faculty, staff, institutions, and communities alike. lessons from this experience can enlighten other colleges pursing similar partnerships or mergers. With more such success stories, higher education can build momentum toward a new era of strategic collaboration.


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