Wheelock College graduated its final class as an independent institution Friday. The small private school known for its education programs is merging with Boston University this summer.
BU has said it will salvage the college's facilities in the Fenway and give jobs to the majority of the school's faculty and operations staff.
Mailroom worker Edwin Swanson said he's glad to have a job, even if he's a little anxious about the coming change.
“I think BU’s going to have a different plan for how they’re going to run things, so there are going to be changes. What they are remains to be seen,” he said.
Starting June 1, the school will be called the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University.
Wheelock students tell WGBH News that the graduation ceremony is bittersweet, but most, like rising junior Rachael Whittemore, are taking the merger in stride. Whittemore is planning on transitioning to BU in the fall.
“BU might have more opportunities, because Wheelock is such a small school. But also, I feel like I’m losing out on some portions of Wheelock because I chose to go to this school. But I’m looking at the experience with hope,” she said.
Senior Hannah McLaughlin says she's had four great years at Wheelock. She graduated today with two majors — early childhood education and performing arts.
“That's another thing I loved here at Wheelock — we could double major, so, you had a professional major and an academic major. And my philosophy of teaching is that I want to integrate the arts into the curriculum as much as possible,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin supports the 133-year-old institution’s merger with BU and says it will keep Wheelock alive.
“Through BU, they will gain a stronger education program, a stronger child life program and anything that will inspire a world full of good, which is our mission statement.”
Still, McLaughlin says she's proud to be in the last class to earn diplomas that say only Wheelock College.
Dr. Kenann McKenzie is executive director of the college’s Aspire Institute and Center for Scholarship and Research. She came to work at Wheelock almost two years ago, and she acknowledges the merger is bittersweet.
“I do have empathy for my colleagues, who have been here a long time. And for them this is a long-time home, and I feel for them too. but I’m happy so many of us are going to be staying on,” said McKenzie.
Under the merger, BU will take over responsibilities for all of Wheelock’s assets and liabilities.