Books closed, doors locked: Anthem College in Brookfield shuts down for good

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A state education official calls it the "worst-case scenario." Anthem College in Brookfield is closing its doors -- effective Friday, August 22nd. More than 150 students are affected.

Anthem is a for-profit career college. Officials announced over the summer that it would likely close its Brookfield campus at the end of September, allowing students to finish up their classes. But this week, staff and students got a big surprise.

"They said, this is it. Won't be any classes Monday," said Joe Sparks, surgical tech student.

Paul Craig is head of the surgical tech program at Anthem.

"All of the sudden we were thrown into a company meeting Wednesday afternoon to say, 'No I`m sorry, the doors are going to close this Friday,'" said Craig.

David Dies is executive director of the Educational Approval Board (EAB) which oversees for-profit colleges in Wisconsin. He calls the sudden closing of Anthem College "catastrophic."

"It creates a tremendous amount of stress for students, for us, for all these 'teachout' providers, as well as a major disruption in these students' lives," said Dies.

The state's EAB has a $1.7 million student protection fund just for situations like this. Officials are using some of that money to buy the lab equipment from Anthem College -- and keep it in storage until they can find a new home for the medical assistant and surgical tech programs.

The EAB has brokered a deal with Milwaukee Career College to help some of the students complete their degrees. If the deal is approved, the staff from Anthem would transfer with them.

What the EAB is trying to do is conduct a so-called "teach out," where existing students are able to complete the programs they've started. But before Milwaukee Career College can take over the programs for that purpose, it needs approval from a national accrediting board in Virginia. That board is expected to make a decision by early next week.