- Cardinal Stritch University, a Roman Catholic institution in Wisconsin, will close when the academic year ends in May, its president announced Monday.
- President Dan Scholz in a video message attributed the closure to downward enrollment trends, the coronavirus pandemic and “mounting operational and facility challenges.” Describing the shutdown as devastating, he said all of those factors led to “a no-win situation.”
- Scholz said the college will continue to offer academic services this summer to students who are close to finishing their degrees. The university is in the process of striking deals with local colleges where other students can easily transfer, Scholz said. He did not name those institutions in his message.
Cardinal Stritch, which celebrated its 85th birthday last summer, succumbed to the same financial stressors cited by other colleges that are about to shut their doors.
Other institutions that have announced closure or consolidation in recent weeks include Medaille University, a small private nonprofit college in New York that is being acquired by Trocaire College, and Iowa Wesleyan University, a private nonprofit liberal arts institution.
They each said enrollment pressures in particular contributed to their downfall.
Cardinal Stritch enrolled 1,365 students in fall 2021, according to the most recently available federal data. About a third of its undergraduates received federal Pell Grants, a proxy for low- or moderate-income status.
However, it has bled students over the past decade — in fall 2011, the college had close to quadruple the enrollment, 5,159 students.
Scholz said in his message that the university’s trustees had recommended the closure to the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic congregation that founded the college under the name St. Clare College in 1937, and still has close ties to the college.
The Sisters accepted the recommendation, and that started the closure process, Scholz said.
“We made a difference in the lives of our students, and throughout our community and for that, I will always be grateful,” Scholz said.