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Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla calls for an investigation into the closure of the University of the Arts

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla is calling for an investigation into the abrupt closure of the University of the Arts.

Squilla introduced a resolution passed in the City Council on Thursday to hold hearings on the closure of UArts.

“It is up to us as elected officials to hold hearings to get to the bottom of what is really going on,” Squilla said. “How do we protect both the students and the staff and the people who work there, but also protect the city as a whole? The University of Arts is a major institution in the city of Philadelphia and we must do everything we can to save it and ensure that the process followed has been done correctly and that all answers we receive are the correct answers.”

Squilla said he was in “total shock” when news of the school’s closure was announced last week. He said the city will explore other options, including the possibility of merger with other universities in the city and in collaboration with state and federal partners.

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“We really need to hold people accountable,” Squilla said. “We really need to look at the challenges this poses for students and staff and ensure we can provide them with the answers they deserve in this process.”

Earlier this week, Two lawsuits have been filed against UArtsincluding one from a group of faculty members who are part of the United Academics of Philadelphia union.

The school abruptly announced last week that it would close on Friday and the university President Kerry Walk resigned on Tuesday.

UArts also abruptly canceled a town hall on Monday as students sought answers about the closure during a large demonstration on Broad Street.

As students and staff continue to search for basic answers, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education indicated that the reason the university will close is cash flow.

“I just want to know what happened and I want to know what my employment status is,” said Jean Murphy, who works at UArts. ‘I want to know when I will get my salary. I want to know if I will be paid for my holiday.’

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Squilla said he will do everything he can to save UArts.

“We are here with them. The University of Arts is a treasure. The fact that they are students in the city of Philadelphia is something that we want to protect, and we want to give them every opportunity in the city of Philadelphia to go to school here. And the people who work there — a lot of people spend their entire lives in that facility and we want to make sure that their backs are protected as well and that by making sure that we slow down this process and don’t just take their answer and say, ‘ It’s done, sorry it’s done.’ “I think as an elected body we have more of a say here and hopefully do everything we can to achieve that protection.”

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