This paper studies the role of universities in local development by analyzing 14 cases of establishments and closures of colleges in Korea. To ease concerns over the endogenous determination of campus openings and closures, the Synthetic Control Method was used which constructs the counterfactuals of cities in which campus openings or closures occur. In regards to the establishment of campuses, the two campus openings for the National Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST and UNIST) generated positive employment effects for the local economies. The effects have been larger in the manufacturing sectors due to the entry of new firms, but the local service sectors have also expanded due to the increased demand. The impact on land prices in general has been limited. These results suggest that the university research, local industrial structure as well as the competence of university must be correlated to generate any spillover effects from campus openings. For the closure of college campuses, most cities do not experience significant changes in employment or other outcomes. But, two regions where campuses left due to relocation experienced a decrease in service sector employment. These results imply that an exogenous and large population decrease may lead to a significant loss in local employment. Therefore, policy makers should consider measures to ease the negative employment effects from campus closures.