Dakar campus to close its doors

After 12 years of offering the American college experience to students in West Africa, Suffolk’s campus in Dakar, Senegal will close its doors.

In an email sent to staff members, Acting President and Provost Barry Brown cited a lack of interest in the campus and fiscal reasons as to why it’s closing.

“When the program started, it was our sense that the most effective way to bring the American educational experience to students in West Africa would be to create a physical presence there,” said Brown in the email. “Today, electronic communications and the Internet offer a whole window into the American educational experience for students of college age in Africa.”

Brown explained that students in West Africa are opting to spend all four years studying in the United States, instead of enrolling at the Dakar campus for two years before coming to Boston, which is what the program offers.

He went on to say that “the resources required to operate a campus overseas are significant and trustees felt students would be better served by applying those resources to financial aid and to advance programs for our international students studying in Boston.”

The Dakar campus will keep some temporary operations running while current students finish their programs, according to Brown.

Some members of the Suffolk community, like senior Meghan Davis, a double major in International Relations and African History, feels that closing the Dakar campus will squander opportunities for both U.S. and African students.

“I think it was a big opportunity for students from the U.S. to travel to Dakar and also for students from Dakar to travel to Boston,” she said. “My biggest concern is if students from [the area] will continue to come to Boston after it closes.”

In 2009, a group of Suffolk students, including Davis, went on a trip to Uganda.”It’s important to travel to an area of your study. As an African History major, going to Africa really enhanced my studies,” said Davis, who plans on moving to West Africa for two and a half years with the Peace Corps after she graduates in May.

Sophomore Babacar Sembene, a computer science major who transferred from the Dakar campus this semester, said Suffolk is losing money from the Dakar campus and understands why it’s beingaking away an opportunity from many African students.

He said he only knew about Suffolk through the Dakar campus. “There will be less African students [at Suffolk] because the only way to know about Suffolk” is through the Dakar campus.

“Some of my close friends are from the Dakar Campus. I’ve learned a lot from them and they bring a lot to Suffolk Boston,” said Davis, adding that she doesn’t want other students to miss out on that experience.