Lindenwood University

Cherry Tree Advises Lindenwood University on its Acquisition of Dorsey College

“This is a historic moment for both institutions which have a shared vision for providing learner-centric education.  A key part of our strategy is to expand into the ‘just-in-time’ learner space, and Dorsey’s 89-year history of providing exceptional career-focused education is a perfect fit.”

— Dr. John Porter, President and CEO of both Lindenwood Education System and Lindenwood University

Higher Education
Non-Profit, regionally accredited NCAA Division I, liberal arts university
St. Charles, MO
100% Buyout


In March 2023, Lindenwood Education System, the non-profit parent entity of Lindenwood University, completed its acquisition of Dorsey College, a nationally accredited institution that provides career-focused education in the healthcare, skilled trades, culinary arts, emergency medical services, and beauty and wellness fields. Lindenwood Education System is now the parent organization of both Dorsey College and its existing Lindenwood University, a regionally accredited university with a 190-year history and more than 75,000 alumni.

Under Lindenwood Education System, Dorsey College and Lindenwood University will operate as separate education institutions, and Dorsey will maintain its name and career-focused programs. Lindenwood University will continue as a regionally accredited, NCAA Division I, liberal arts college offering on-campus and online education.

Dorsey is the oldest career college in Michigan serving more than 1,800 students across eight campuses in the state. The college offers more than 20 programs and certificates running from six to 24 months in length. It is also Michigan’s largest educator of practical nurse and emergency medical service graduates.

This is the first step in the plan of the Lindenwood Education System to build a network of schools with complementary educational programs that can provide life-long education leading to career advancement. Immediately following completion of the transaction, Dorsey College will hold tax-exempt status for corporate and tax purposes. In the coming months, Dorsey anticipates pursuing recognition as a non-profit institution of higher education with the U.S. Department of Education.

“This is the natural next step for Dorsey College,” said John Barnes, CEO and president of Dorsey College, who will remain in his leadership role. “We believe our career-focused curriculum and our deep commitment to developing the whole person to promote their long-term success aligns perfectly with Lindenwood’s learner-centric mission. These commitments will only grow stronger as a member of the Lindenwood family.”

The Lindenwood Education System represents an innovative and forward-looking approach to growth in the increasingly competitive higher education market which has seen historic enrollment declines in recent years. “We believe the Lindenwood Education System is the beginning of a new network of schools that will attract students by providing them with a solution for lifelong learning that will enable them to achieve their personal and professional goals,” Porter said.

Cherry Tree’s Role

Cherry Tree was engaged to assist Lindenwood in exploring a potential acquisition to build the reach and impact of the University. Cherry Tree leveraged its experience in the higher education industry, research capabilities, and network to develop a proprietary list of actionable acquisition targets. After completing initial evaluations, Cherry Tree led outreach and assisted Lindenwood in evaluating targets, including financial modeling and due diligence. Cherry Tree then supported the negotiations of the definitive agreements, managed the facilitation of due diligence, and navigated the regulatory environment to ensure a smooth and timely closing.

About Lindenwood University

Founded in 1832, Lindenwood is a dynamic four-year institution dedicated to excellence in higher education. Its historic campus is situated in the heart of Saint Charles, Missouri, a growing community of more than 65,000 just west of St. Louis. Lindenwood offers more than 100-degree programs through values-centered education that lead to the development of the whole person. Lindenwood is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is known nationally and internationally for innovation, entrepreneurship, and extraordinary dedication to students.

About Dorsey College

The Dorsey School was founded by Ruth Dorsey in 1934 and was located in downtown Detroit. Today, Dorsey College, remains committed to providing quality career training that prepares individuals for promising career opportunities in fields such as healthcare, nursing, culinary, beauty, skilled trades, and emergency medical services at various campus locations in Michigan. Dorsey College is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education. This applies to the Madison Heights campus (which serves as the main campus) and the Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Roseville, Saginaw, Woodhaven, and Wayne campuses (which are branch campus locations of Madison Heights).

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