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“Bittersweet” anniversary for California Catholic college

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Notre Dame de Namur College directors are marking the one centesimal anniversary of the Roman Catholic establishment’s present San Francisco Bay space campus this month and celebrating a milestone that was removed from a certainty only a few years in the past when some folks had been predicting its demise.

Enrollment and income had been falling when its president introduced in March 2020 that the college would cease admitting new college students whereas looking for a technique to keep open.

The extent of optimism on campus concerning the path ahead was not excessive, particularly amongst some school members. One school chief described the choice as a brief keep of execution.

“It was a extremely unclear time … and I actually didn’t know which approach it might go,” stated Helen Marlo, dean of the College of Psychology. “However I did have numerous religion.”

The college didn’t shut. As an alternative, it introduced in 2021 that it might pivot and focus totally on graduate applications specializing in psychology, schooling and enterprise.

Marlo recalled that the graduate program in medical psychology had “our strongest enrollment 12 months ever” in 2019.

“We’ve got a protracted historical past of offering, serving and coaching in sure choose areas,” she stated. “It wasn’t a shock to me that professionally oriented graduate applications had been doing properly, however different—primarily liberal arts—undergraduate diploma applications had been not sustainable.”

At present, Notre Dame de Namur primarily serves working adults and professionals returning to varsity to earn grasp’s levels. Programs are provided in a mixture of hybrid, in-person and on-line codecs. The college additionally affords a number of bachelor’s diploma–completion applications for many who stopped out of school. Simply 15 college students are at present enrolled in these applications, however college directors say they intend to develop them.

“We’re now right into a world the place we’re serving the posttraditional pupil,” stated Beth Martin, president of the college. “We’re combating the identical headwinds that each different establishment within the nation is correct now, however I can actually inform you that I see a path to sustainability.”

She declined to debate the monetary standing of the college and stated solely that it’s in “higher form.”

‘Bittersweet’ Celebration

College directors “see a path to sustainability” largely due to the anticipated sale of its 46-acre campus to Stanford College.

“We all know that earlier than too lengthy, we can have a big bolus of cash coming in,” stated Martin.

The college is relying closely on monetary assist from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur within the interim. 4 members of the spiritual order, which based the establishment in 1851, now sit on the Board of Trustees.

Marlo stated she is “grateful” the college made it to its one centesimal anniversary, however that reaching the milestone is “bittersweet.”

“I’ve been there for therefore lengthy that it’s been like a second residence,” Marlo stated. “However I believe there’s additionally a way that the land sale is enabling sure issues to occur that matter extra to us than the bodily location.”

She stated in an e-mail that the pending sale permits the college to “re-envision and develop a sustainable plan and future for our College, one which capitalizes on our strengths as an establishment. This meant we might run key educational applications and recruit and admit college students.”

Notre Dame de Namur and Stanford are at present underneath an option-to-purchase settlement that provides Stanford the unique proper to purchase the property and retains it in a hard and fast value vary whereas it undergoes environmental impression research and different regulatory processes required by the town. If all goes as deliberate, the acquisition will probably be made earlier than the settlement ends in 2025. Officers on the two establishments haven’t disclosed the sale value.

Martin described the board’s resolution to “monetize the campus property” as “sensible” and “momentous” for a college that can have a “a lot smaller footprint.”

Whilst Notre Dame de Namur transitions to extra digital and hybrid applications, the college remains to be primarily working in particular person. With a modest 200 pupil head rely in its graduate applications in the course of the 2022–23 educational 12 months, the college not requires the services it wanted for the 795 undergraduates and 482 graduates enrolled in 2019.

“Now that we’re centered on the posttraditional college students and shifting lots of our applications on-line, we’ve no want, for instance, for in depth residence halls,” Martin stated. “The management workforce of the sisters agreed that this was the correct technique to go sooner or later.”

Joel Berman, director of land and native coverage communications at Stanford, stated the acquisition of Notre Dame de Namur’s campus presents thrilling alternatives for Stanford.

“The property’s current use as a residential educational campus was an essential consideration for Stanford, as was its location on the Peninsula in proximity to public transit and the present Stanford and Stanford Redwood Metropolis campuses,” he added.

Martin stated Notre Dame de Namur officers haven’t decided the place they are going to relocate the school, at present positioned within the metropolis of Belmont, if the sale goes via, however the establishment hopes to signal a lease close by in Silicon Valley.

“If not proper within the metropolis of Belmont, very shut,” Martin stated. “We wish to keep locally we’ve contributed to. So lots of our alums are educating in our faculty districts, and so lots of our therapists are in our native clinics.”

Potential for Progress

Even with the prospects of a profitable sale in one of many nation’s costliest actual property markets, Notre Dame de Namur needed to make vital funds cuts to get thus far. After terminating conventional undergraduate applications, the college laid off greater than 60 p.c of its school and employees, whittling 145 administrative employees members all the way down to 45, lowering 32 full-time school all the way down to eight and 150 adjuncts all the way down to 45.

Marlo, who was a school member on the time, stated it was “extraordinarily unhappy” to see so many cuts, however she understood “there weren’t very many different choices.”

“There was numerous devastating loss that needed to occur in an effort to protect the issues that may very well be preserved,” she stated.

Notre Dame de Namur has been centered on rebuilding school and employees because it dropped its conventional undergraduate applications, Martin stated. Aside from Provost Gregory B. White, who has been employed by the college for 30 years, and Martin, who was a school member and dean between 1996 and 2006, a lot of the president’s cupboard, in addition to employees within the departments of finance and enrollment, are new to the college.

5 new grasp’s diploma applications have been added over time: an internet grasp of arts program in range, fairness and inclusion management; a hybrid grasp of science program in know-how administration; an in-person grasp of enterprise administration program in STEM; and two on-line applications in schooling remedy and enterprise administration, acquired from Holy Names College, in Oakland, Calif., when it shuttered this spring.

And this fall, for the primary time in at the least 5 years, the college is “on observe” for an anticipated 20 to 25 p.c development in enrollment, reaching at the least 240 college students, based on college spokesperson Kurt Allen.

Michael B. Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a nonpartisan suppose tank, stated he sees “promising indicators” for Notre Dame de Namur.

“The actual property that they’re sitting on, that’s numerous property. I assume that can assist them with their enrollment plans,” Horn stated. “And what we see constantly is that when you will have extra focus, that reduces complexity and an operation that reduces the necessity for administrative overhead.”

Horn additionally famous challenges forward, together with discovering one other location for the campus.

“That’s not going to be low cost,” he famous. “And clearly, the grownup learner is sort of a potential, however I say potential as a result of there’s numerous issues that should go proper to enroll that inhabitants.”

He stated he’ll be “tremendous curious” to see how a lot of that is “speak and projection versus actuality.”

If the college experiences extra attrition, “then that’s not going to be an excellent signal,” he stated. However “in the event that they do develop, after which they get a money infusion from the gross sales of actual property, and so they’re capable of finding a brand new place … That might get fascinating. That would appear like a possible path ahead.”

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