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Saint Joseph’s College (Indiana) Suspending Operations

Saint Joseph’s College (Indiana) Suspending Operations

“We were hoping for more in order to give us a little bit more time”

You know things are serious when an institution has a problem that even $15 million dollars can’t fix.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

A Cash Crisis and Collapse

This fall, leaders at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., had a plan to avoid a financial crisis and accreditation crunch bearing down on them.

The Roman Catholic liberal arts college started negotiations to license out windmill-filled farmland it owns. Saint Joseph’s can’t sell the 7,634 acres of land under the terms of a trust. But the college could lease the future rights to the land in exchange for a lump-sum payment that would allow it to stay operational as it revamped its operations.

Leaders approached the Mayo Clinic in August. They wanted to license out the land, which generates about $2 million a year, for an as yet undetermined number of years. In exchange the college hoped to receive $35 million.

But negotiations hit a roadblock in December. The Mayo Clinic was only offering $15 million to $20 million, said Robert Pastoor, Saint Joseph’s College president.

“We were hoping for more in order to give us a little bit more time to work out some of these problems financially,” Pastoor said. “The $15 million certainly would not give us enough time.”

The stalled negotiations set off a chain of events that led to Saint Joseph’s announcing a suspension of operations on its campus after the end of the current semester. That suspension, announced at the end of last week, thrust Saint Joseph’s into the uncharted, difficult territory of trying to shut down classes and reboot itself after a year’s break. It also galvanized faculty members, alumni and students, many of whom knew the college’s cash was tight but still feel they were kept in the dark about the severity of the college’s fiscal situation.

Pastoor had talked with faculty members, employees and students to discuss the negotiations over the farmland, he said. Shortly after they stalled, rumors started circulating. Those rumors included one that the college was going to close in March.

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