HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Board of Trustees of Hilbert College announced Wednesday that the school will be acquiring Valley College, an institute with campuses in Ohio and West Virginia.

According to Hilbert, the acquisition will support the College’s mission to grow enrollment, providing skills to help its students get better jobs, and extending its mission as a Catholic Franciscan school.

The nonprofit Franciscan Services will help guide the colleges through the process. The colleges will continue to exist independently with their respective names and branding, but will work together to offer a wider selection of courses.

Hilbert currently offers many business, law, and cybersecurity courses, while Valley offers a variety of health programs. The move will also effectively combine Hilbert’s student population with Valley’s to expand opportunities for roughly 2,000 students.

“This is an important step forward in Hilbert’s strategic plan, strengthening both institutions,” said Hilbert Board of Trustees chairperson Laurie Boreanaz Carra in a release. “The breadth of programs, modalities, and locations across Hilbert and Valley College position them both to thrive.”

Hilbert’s president, Dr. Michael Brophy, told News 4 the move comes from a position of strength, with the College’s growing about 20% over the past two years.

“Small colleges can be difficult, financially,” Dr. Brophy said. “We’ve watched what’s happening in the sector and wanted to operate from strength.”

A Hilbert spokesperson noted that the acquisition also comes with Valley College on the upswing, as it has been on a growth trajectory over the past decade.

“Through this strategic acquisition, both Hilbert College and Valley College are leaning into the changes affecting higher education, including declining high school graduation rates, increasing workforce development needs, and regional and national higher education trends,” Tony Palmieri, president of Valley College, said in the announcement of the acquisition.

According to Dr. Brophy, Valley had reached out to Hilbert about the move at a time when the Hamburg-based college had been thinking about growth through acquisition. He said Valley also believed the colleges were a good match for each other, and Hilbert had its sights set on expanding beyond Western New York.

“We need to have a life beyond the 716,” he said. “We can reach a wider group of people in three different states.”

Another selling point for Hilbert was Valley’s online education presence.

“Valley has been doing online classes a little longer [than Hilbert has], and they have more percentage of students taking online courses,” Dr. Brophy said.

Adam Duke is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of his work here.