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Citing declining enrollment and financial challenges, Hodges University plans to permanently close by the end of next August, the president of the Fort Myers-based university announced Friday.  

“Hodges University has made the difficult decision to not enroll any degree-seeking students for September 2023 and is taking the necessary steps to cease operations of the majority of our degree offerings at the end of April 2024, with limited classes offered through August 2024,” Hodges University President Charlene Wendel wrote in a letter to students. “Unfortunately, due to financial challenges and declining enrollment numbers, we can no longer provide the quality educational programs that we have provided over the past 33 years.”  

The private, nonprofit institution of higher learning was founded in Naples as International College in 1990. After longtime Naples residents Earl and Thelma Hodges donated $12 million to International College in 2007, the college was renamed Hodges University in their honor.   

The university began moving its programs to its Fort Myers campus on Colonial Boulevard in mid-2020 and relocated its remaining Naples faculty and staff to Fort Myers in phases. Since 2021, Hodges no longer held classes in Naples and the Hodges name and logo were removed from its former buildings in North Naples.  

Ironically, the announcement of the decision by Hodges University’s board of trustees to close the local institution came just two days before Thelma Hodges’ 95th birthday celebration Sunday at Hodges Funeral Home, which she co-founded with her late husband in Naples. Celebrating her birthday there has become an annual community event.   

Because Mrs. Hodges was a longtime registered nurse and helped pioneer what would become Naples Community Hospital, Hodges University named the Thelma T. Hodges Nursing Program to honor her. She could not be reached for comment regarding the university’s closing.  

“Hodges University is committed to supporting currently enrolled students as they complete their studies. All necessary resources and guidance will be provided to ensure a smooth transition and minimize any disruptions to their education,” according to a news release from the university’s president and board of trustees. “Many of our students will be able to complete their degree at Hodges and we are actively working with other accredited institutions to establish transfer agreements and options for students who will need to continue their educational pursuits elsewhere.”  

Hodges offered associate degrees in business administration, digital design and graphics, general studies, paralegal studies, physical therapy assistant, pre-dental and pre-nursing; bachelor’s degrees in accounting, applied psychology, business administration, computer science, dental hygiene, digital design and graphics, finance, health sciences, interdisciplinary studies, modern marketing, nursing and organizational management; master’s degrees in accounting, business administration, clinical mental health counseling, juris master and organizational leadership; as well as many undergraduate and graduate certificate programs.  

The university presented diplomas this summer to recent graduates during its 34th annual commencement exercises. A letter sent Friday to Hawks alumni by the Hodges University Alumni Association anticipated questions regarding the effect of the university’s closure on past conferred degrees and future requests for transcripts.  

“First, I want to ensure all of our alumni that your degrees were conferred by Hodges University or International College while fully accredited and in good standing with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Therefore, the closure of the university has no effect on your degree,” wrote Christopher M. Parfitt, senior director of grants and alumni relations. “As part of the closure plan, there are questions that still need to be answered, and aspects finalized, including selection of a permanent custodian of academic records.”  

Parfitt said he will remain a point of contact for alumni questions and advised recipients to check for updated information on the university’s website. 

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