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Keystone College seeks approval for new ownership structure

Keystone College
Sarah Hofius Hall
Keystone College

Keystone College could soon have a new owner.

The school, located in both Lackawanna and Wyoming counties, entered into a “membership interest transfer agreement” with the Washington Institute for Education and Research.

Under the agreement, the institute would become the “sole member” of Keystone, and the college would remain a domestic nonprofit corporation, according to a letter college President John Pullo, Sr., sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in January. Pullo is a member of the WVIA Board of Directors.

The state and Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the college’s accreditor, must approve the agreement. Middle States will meet on March 13-14, according to the letter from Pullo obtained by WVIA News. Approval by the state could come later this month.

Keystone’s board of trustees would remain responsible for the academic and administrative affairs of the college, according to the letter. About 1,100 students attend the school.

A statement from Keystone did not directly address the pending transfer to the Washington Institute, and instead stated the college’s board has authorized the leadership team to “explore strategic relationships that will enhance and expand Keystone’s educational mission.”

Like other colleges both in the region and nationwide, Keystone has struggled financially in recent years. Schools face growing costs and declining enrollment as families worry more about student debt.

Because of that climate, “Keystone is continuously seeking new pathways to bring additional value to its students as well as to provide more agile access to a wider array of learners,” the statement reads. “The college believes that partnerships and affiliations are central to that strategy and an essential part of advancing our reputation as one of the region’s premier institutions of higher learning.”

Various agencies, departments and agreements restrict the college from releasing additional information at this time, according to the statement.

The founder of the Washington Institute is a member of Keystone Board of Trustees. Ahmed Alwani established the institute in 2023 for the purpose of “funding, promoting and supporting postsecondary education.”

He is also the founder and president of the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy and its parent institution, Fairfax University of America. Based in northern Virginia, Alwani has investments in the poultry, real estate and education/training sectors, according to the New Lines website.

Sarah Hofius Hall worked at The Times-Tribune in Scranton since 2006. For nearly all of that time, Hall covered education, visiting the region's classrooms and reporting on issues important to students, teachers, families and taxpayers.

You can email Sarah at sarahhall@wvia.org