Notre Dame College to close after spring semester

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Dive Brief:

  • Notre Dame College, in Ohio, will close at the end of the spring 2024 semester, the administration announced Thursday. 
  • Officials from the Roman Catholic college had met with administrators at Cleveland State University in recent months to explore a merger or acquisition, but they were ultimately unsuccessful. 
  • Notre Dame said the closure was related to declining enrollment and a shrinking pool of traditional-aged students, as well as rising costs and significant debt. 

Dive Insight:

From 2014 to 2022, total fall enrollment at Notre Dame declined nearly 37%, from 2,281 students to 1,444, according to federal data. 

College officials said that they made many efforts to remain open, including fundraising, refinancing debt, and tapping into federal and state pandemic relief. But efforts were not sufficient to close budget gaps and fulfill debt obligations, they said. 

We are all saddened by the need to make this decision, but rest assured that as we move forward, we are doing everything we can to ensure a smooth transition for our students to continue their education,” John Smetanka, interim president of Notre Dame, said in a release.

At least four public and nonprofit colleges in Ohio have closed since 2018, with Notre Dame set to become another. At least 20 institutions announced closures or consolidations in 2023, including several religiously-affiliated colleges. 

Two other Roman Catholic institutions — the College of Saint Rose, in New York, and Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, in New Hampshire — announced pending closures late last year. Both institutions had also struggled with enrollment, and the College of Saint Rose had projected a cash deficit of $11.3 million. 

According to an FAQ, Notre Dame College has arranged for students to continue their studies via teach outs with 10 other institutions. A majority are with Ohio institutions: Baldwin Wallace University, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, Ursuline College and Walsh University. It also established an agreement with Mercyhurst University, about 95 miles northeast in Pennsylvania. 

In a Thursday announcement, Mercyhurst said the teach-out agreement will enable Notre Dame College’s students to finish credentials without losing time or credits. 

“It is the goal of both institutions to meet the distinct and diverse needs of Notre Dame students and to ensure the best possible outcome for all concerned,” Michael Joseph, Mercyhurst’s interim vice president for enrollment, said in a statement.

Notre Dame students who transfer to partner institutions can expect to pay the same net tuition costs and to graduate on time, according to the FAQ. The college said it is still negotiating teach-outs with additional institutions.


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