Originally Published Feb 24, 2015, 7:24am EST by Mary Moore, Reporter-Boston Business Journal

Montserrat College of Art is discussing a possible merger with Salem State University, according to a news release issued Monday evening by both institutions.

Salem State University’s president Patricia Maguire Meservey and Montserrat College of Art’s president Stephen Immerman have announced the news to their respective students, faculty and staff, noting that a confidential due diligence of the deal had concluded.

If the merger is finalized, it would take effect in the 2017-2018 academic year, according to the press release.

“As a small, private college with less than 400 students, it is challenging to provide the resources needed to maintain and grow the competitive advantages needed for working artists,” said Immerman, in a prepared statement. “By joining Salem State, we believe that we can ensure that the Montserrat name and the college’s tradition of excellence and student-centered education will remain available for future generations of aspiring artists and designers.”

There is much more work to be done to assess the potential arrangement, the release states, and committees composed of faculty and staff from both institutions will evaluate the pro’s and con’s.

A funky art school that started in the 1960s, Montserrat, which is located in Beverly, appeared on a watch list of institutions whose federal financial aid was in question due to shaky financials. The U.S. Department of Education data showed that Montserrat was considered not financially responsible in the 2011 and 2010 fiscal years.

Montserrat ended the 2013 fiscal year reporting a deficit of nearly $339,000. In 2009, its deficit was roughly $826,000.

Immerman joined Montserrat’s as president in 2009 after decades at MIT, where he served in various capacities.