Raymond Schadeck, (former) Chairman of the (former) Board of Regents of SHULU; Credit: SHULU

In mid-May 2022, the United States-based Sacred Heart University announced its decision to discontinue face-to-face learning at its Luxembourg campus, effective 1 July 2022.

This decision came as a surprise to staff and students alike and means that Sacred Heart University Luxembourg (SHULU) students must now choose between completing their MBA programmes 100% online or in person at the university’s Fairfield campus in Connecticut in the US. Uncertainty also remains concerning the impact of this decision on the validity of student visas.

In light of this continued uncertainty, Chronicle.lu reached out to Raymond Schadeck, the (former) Chairman of the (former) Board of Regents of SHULU, who shared his opinion on the matter in a statement, issued on behalf of the Board of Regents.

Mr Schadeck began by expressing his shock at the recent decision to shut down the Luxembourg campus, stating: "Just like all the students, faculty members, employees and partners, we, members of the (former) Board of Regents were completely stunned by the surprising, incomprehensible, and unacceptable decision of Sacred Heart University’s rushed shutdown of the Luxembourg Campus".

The decision was all the more surprising since the Board of Regents "specifically holds an advisory role (the decision-making role being with the Board of Directors where the Board of Regents, was not represented)" and thus "would have expected to be included in the decision-making process and asked for exactly what we were constituted to do: give advice. Advice not only about the decision itself, but especially on the way to execute and communicate such a decision, if that very decision still would have felt necessary and rectified after our involvement".

"Instead, the responsible people in Fairfield decided to entirely ignore the governance they themselves had put in place and only informed us of their decision at the same moment the message was passed on to all other parties involved", he continued. "The Board of Regents has ceased to exist since the very moment of the announcement".

Raymond Schadeck added that the decision was "incomprehensible, because the Luxembourg operations had (as we were told) been generating positive results over the last five to six years". He continued: "Especially after all the investments made over the last twelve months to incorporate sustainability aspects into all the existing programmes and the launch of the 'Sustainability in Action' leadership platform with its brand-new courses in last October, the Luxembourg operations had never ever been so attractive to the local business community than at this very moment".

He went on to describe the decision to close the Luxembourg campus as "unwise", not least because of "all the foreign business schools that have been trying to target the local, yet international market since years but keep hesitating to start operations in Luxembourg from scratch", as well as "unacceptable", referring specifically to the way in which the news was shared with staff and students, "by email, with only six weeks’ notice", and how the situation was handled. "Up to this day we are still left without answers to many vital questions", he confirmed.

"While it was unacceptable to all parties, it was especially cruel to the students who won’t be able to complete their studies by the end of June and those students who had signed up and arrived in Luxembourg to start their studies in July", he emphasised. "We cannot fathom how such a lack of transparency and respect and inconsiderate treatment of loyal employees, students, faculty and partners could be reconciled with the very mission, vision and values that the University proclaims".

Consequently, the decision and the way in which the situation was handled have substantially damaged the brand name of Sacred Heart University, in the opinion of Mr Schadeck and other (former) members of the Board of Regents. "Due to the surprising, incomprehensible and unacceptable way of handling its exit from the Luxembourg market, Sacred Heart University has burnt all bridges, not only with the Luxembourg ecosystem but also with the international community and stakeholders around its Luxembourg campus", the statement continued.

Raymond Schadeck assured that, "after a couple of days of shock and disbelief", the Board of Regents have now committed themselves "to do everything possible to remedy this exceptional situation with the exceptional measures it calls for; exceptional indeed as time is of essence for all current students who won’t have finished their studies by 30 June, and those who were supposed to start in July". 

He elaborated: "I am very happy to report that this commitment is fully shared by the decision makers of a top foreign university / business school, which we have been in extensive discussions with in terms of offering continuity for students on the ground in Luxembourg". Whilst it is still "too early" to share more details in this regard, Mr Schadeck noted that "given the tough timeline we have, we are looking forward to providing you with more information very soon!"