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Notre Dame College to close its doors at end of spring semester

A person walks up stairs outside a brick building beside a blue and yellow sign reading "admissions."
Annie Wu
Ideastream Public Media
Notre Dame College announced Thursday it would be closing its doors at the end of the current semester.

Notre Dame College, a private college in South Euclid open since 1922, said Thursday it will be closing its doors at the end of the spring semester, putting an end to months of speculation about the college's financial challenges.

Notre Dame's board of trustees announced it had "secured agreements" with nine partner colleges and universities to help current NDC students in good standing continue their college careers through a "teach-out program" or as transfer students, meaning they can finish out their degrees and have their credits accepted.

“Throughout this long process, we evaluated every possible option to continue the mission of Notre Dame College," Terri Bradford Eason, chair of the board of trustees, said in a release. "Our primary focus has been to ensure our students can successfully continue their education, graduate, and – in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame – live a life of personal, professional and global responsibility.”

The college faced many "long-standing" issues that it tried to address, the press release said, including refinancing debt, navigating a "down market," using federal pandemic relief money, launching a fundraising campaign, and pursuing "two potential higher education partners for a possible merger" or acquisition.

Notre Dame and Cleveland State University officials confirmed earlier this year that they had been in talks to consider CSU absorbing Notre Dame.

"These heroic efforts were not enough to close the financial gap in time to satisfy debt obligations and allow the school to continue to operate independently," the release read.

Partners participating in the teach-out include Cleveland State, Baldwin Wallace University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, Ursuline College, Walsh University and Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Notre Dame has 1,370 students total, 900 of whom are undergraduate students, a spokesperson said Thursday night. The college in its news release said it will host a "partner college/university fair" on March 13, from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Keller Gymnasium to help students determine a path forward.

"The options available for students depend on their status at NDC. Current students in good standing with at least 60 completed credits will receive guaranteed admission to pursue their degrees uninterrupted at a partner institution, with comparable net tuition and transfer of all credits," the release explains. "They will be able to complete their degree in relatively the same amount of time as they could at NDC. Current students in good standing with less than 60 completed credits may have the opportunity to transfer to a partner institution and receive the same benefits of the Teach-Out Program."

The closure will affect 50 full-time faculty, 150 part-time faculty, 100 full-time staff and 70 part-time staff, the spokesperson added.

South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo said in a statement Thursday that the decision to close Notre Dame College came as a "profound loss" to the community.

"Notre Dame College has been more than just a place of learning; it has been a beacon of knowledge, a cultural hub, a gathering place for our community, and a cherished landmark. For decades, it has nurtured the minds and spirits of countless students, fostering intellectual curiosity, personal growth, and a sense of belonging."

Updated: February 29, 2024 at 9:10 PM EST
The story has been updated to correct a typo in the paragraph about the impacts on faculty and staff, where part-time staff was originally referenced twice.

8:32 p.m.: The story has been updated to include information on the number of students, faculty and staff affected by the closure.

The story was previously updated to add comments from the mayor of South Euclid and information about prior merger talks with Cleveland State.
Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.