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Could Cleveland State absorb Notre Dame amid financial challenges?

Notre Dame College sign beside a hill with a gothic building in the background.
Annie Wu
Ideastream Public Media
Notre Dame College began as a Catholic four-year women's college in 1922. It moved to the South Euclid campus in 1928.

Cleveland State University and Notre Dame College confirmed Monday they've discussed with each other the possibility of CSU absorbing Notre Dame's operations, amid ongoing financial challenges at the college in South Euclid.

Those challenges include a "shrinking pool of college-aged students" and growing costs, said John Smetanka, Notre Dame's interim president.

"In response to these challenges, Notre Dame College continues to engage in strategic planning to develop options for our future, including a potential opportunity with Cleveland State University that would be mutually beneficial to our students, our school community, and both organizations," Smetanka said. "No decision has been made at this time. As we continue to move forward with our strategic planning, we will provide timely updates directly to our school community."

Cleveland State University's board of trustees has had several "preliminary meetings" with Notre Dame College, a CSU spokesperson said Tuesday. Signal Cleveland first reported that three such conversations took place in fall 2023.

"It is accurate to say that those meetings were opportunities for both administrations to explore the feasibility of CSU potentially absorbing Notre Dame College," said Reena Arora-Sánchez, executive director of communications. "There have been no further developments since then, so CSU does not have anything else to add at this time."

Small private colleges in Northeast Ohio and across the country have struggled to deal with declining enrollment, the ending of federal pandemic relief and a shrinking share of young college-aged people due to demographic shifts.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.