SAN JOSE -- National Hispanic University expects to close next year as a four-year college, but the east side campus may host a new charter school, teachers' academy and research institute under new leadership.

Laureate Education, Inc., a for-profit college chain that bought NHU four years ago with high hopes of boosting enrollment through Internet classes, announced the change Wednesday afternoon. The education giant had stopped enrolling new students at NHU several weeks ago, blaming government reductions in financial aid to liberal arts students.

"We made critical and important efforts to expand and make the 'national' in National Hispanic University real," said Jonathan Kaplan, a top Laureate official and chairman of the NHU board of directors. He said Laureate had invested "tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure, faculty and student support."

NHU President Gladys Ato said the university will continue to offer classes at the campus until the remaining enrolled students graduate or transfer to other colleges by the summer of 2015. At that time, NHU would cease to exist as a college accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.


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From its beginnings in Oakland in 1981, NHU embodied the dreams of many Latino education and community leaders who desired a college modeled after African-American colleges, such as Howard University, that produced much of the black leadership in the United States.

However, the school struggled to raise operating funds and raise enrollment even after a local philanthropist bankrolled the construction of a sparkling new building. The school's directors agreed in 2010 to a sale to Laureate for an undisclosed sum.

In spring 2013, the school suffered a severe setback when the U.S. Department of Education reduced financial aid and online opportunities to liberal arts students across the country enrolled in programs that did not offer good prospects for employment. As a result, NHU's online registrations never really took off, Ato and Kaplan said.

Even as Laureate phases out NHU, the education company plans on supporting certain programs offered by the new institutions planned for the campus.

NHU Chancellor David Lopez outlined a three-part plan on Tuesday. He said the NHU Foundation, an independent organization set up after the sale to Laureate that owns the main building, is looking for a K-12 charter school to move in. Another addition would be a training academy for college graduates who want to earn teaching credentials. The third would be an Institute for Hispanic Education Advancement, headed by Lopez, a former NHU president.

Lopez said the research center would study old and new teaching methods and advocate for what works best for Latino students, one of the largest ethnic groups in California public schools.

"I'm looking forward to the future," Lopez said, "to the evolution of Hispanic education and opportunities for our community."

Lopez said the new teacher's academy probably would require a partnership with a local university after NHU's accreditation expires. He expected a charter school to move in as early as August but had no prediction for the teaching academy or research center.

Contact Joe Rodriguez at 408-920-5767 and follow him at Twitter.com/JoeRodMercury.