The closure of Saint Rose is truly heartbreaking for all of us who care deeply about the history and legacy of this institution and the extraordinary students we serve and have served for 103 years.
As Board Chair Jeffrey Stone and I shared with you at our Community Gathering today, there were many overlapping factors that led to the Board of Trustees’ vote yesterday to cease academic instruction after the end of the 2023-2024 academic year. We are grateful for the impressive turnout and the opportunity to speak with you directly, and in person, as we had intended.
Students are our highest priority as are our dedicated faculty and staff, and we are announcing this now, months in advance of the actual closure, to give you as much time as possible because of our strongly felt commitment to you. We know that students and their families, along with faculty, staff and their families, are those most impacted by that decision and you have my word that we will do everything possible to support you.
The Board and my administration have been public about the College’s financial challenges for some time and, of course, Saint Rose is not alone. The same challenges plague many small independent colleges, particularly those here in the Northeast: a more than decade-long decline in enrollment due the shrinking population of college-bound students, the lingering impact of COVID, and other factors that were not only beyond our control, but to a great extent beyond our ability to influence.
The Board and my leadership team have been laser-focused on sustaining the institution. In recent years, the Board eliminated high-cost academic programs, instituted faculty and staff layoffs, and reduced pension contributions, cut administrator salaries, re-financed the College’s debt, requested donors to unrestrict endowed funds, sold non-essential buildings, raised scholarship funds, and implemented a variety of new recruitment initiatives and strategies.
The Board engaged national consultants as we sought to identify a potential higher education partner to strengthen the College’s financial position and continue its educational mission. Similarly, leadership aggressively pursued every opportunity to fundraise and secure significant philanthropic support, including efforts to gain financial support from the state legislature and other elected officials in the Capital Region. No stone was left unturned.
Despite our leadership team’s tireless efforts to address the ongoing deficit, the Board was unable to ensure the College could operate throughout the entire 2024-2025 academic year.
The Board’s decision is heartbreaking, but it was a responsible and necessary step given the Board’s duty to act in the best interests of our students, faculty, and staff — and to do so in the least disruptive manner possible. The decision was also driven by the College’s obligations to regulators, accreditors, lenders, bondholders and its other business and academic partners. The Board had to balance its effort in exhausting every option to keep its doors open with the need of our students, faculty and staff to plan for the future.
For that reason, the College leadership team is preparing a teach-out plan, as required by regulators and accreditors, to facilitate a smooth transition for College of Saint Rose students to pursue degrees at other colleges and universities without interruption. The plan sets forth agreements with higher education institutions that offer academic courses and degree programs aligned with those in which Saint Rose students are currently enrolled. More detailed information will be shared with our college community in the coming weeks.
Our commitment to the College of Saint Rose family is unwavering. As we proceed through this academic year, the College will continue to do everything possible to support our students and our dedicated faculty, staff and administrators and will provide information and resources that will aid them in their decisions about next steps.
To begin, we will host a series of meetings with faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, parents, and alumni. We will share the specific details of those meetings in separate communications.
A press release announcing the closure was distributed on December 1.