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5 things about Wheelock College

Wheelock College is discussing a merger with Boston University.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
Wheelock College is discussing a merger with Boston University.

The announcement Tuesday that Wheelock College and Boston University are in formal merger talks took many by surprise. The potential merger is an example of a trend of smaller, financially struggling schools joining forces with larger schools.

Last year the Boston Conservatory merged with the Berklee College of Music. Andover Newton Theological Seminary sold its Newton campus and agreed to become part of Yale Divinity School in July.

Here are five things you need to know about Wheelock College.

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 Lucy Wheelock launched Miss Wheelock’s Kindergarten Training School in 1888. After serving as the school’s director for 26 years, Wheelock moved the school to newly built facilities on Boston’s Riverway in 1914. When Wheelock retired after serving as director for 50 years, the Wheelock School incorporated as a nonprofit institution and changed its name to Wheelock College in 1939.

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  Notable graduates include actress Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the classic film “The Wizard of Oz,’’ and the Native American writer Deborah Miranda.

  Wheelock is part of the Colleges of the Fenway consortium. The association promotes collaboration among the six colleges to allow students to learn in a smaller classroom environment while enjoying the resources of a large-scale academic environment. The other members are: Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), Emmanuel College, Simmons College, MCPHS University, and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

  Wheelock has 1,053 students. Women make up 82 percent, and 98 percent of the student body receives financial aid. Wheelock’s tuition for the upcoming academic year is $34,950 not including room and board. The college’s operating expenses overtook revenue by $2.6 million in 2016 and $2.5 million in 2015. Its endowment also shrunk from $53.9 million in 2015 to $50 million in 2016

  A report from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in June of 2015 found that the Wheelock administration lacked fiscal transparency and didn’t have nearly enough professors. Eighteen staff members had announced their departure that year, including the college’s directors of admissions, financial aid, and the library. The report said the college would need at least 15 more instructors to handle the course load at the time. Professors also cited concerns because the college had become less academically selective. Wheelock’s acceptance rate was 73 percent at the time.

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Sources: News reports, Wheelock College

Sophia Eppolito can be reached at sophia.eppolito@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @SophiaEppolito.