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jca2's avatar

Are Catholic colleges in your area closing?

Asked by jca2 (16239points) December 1st, 2023
16 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

Here in NY, there’s been an announcement that a college in Albany is closing, permanently. I was looking at the FB post about it, and someone commented that Catholic universities are not doing well, and that this is the 3rd one to close in New York state.

I didn’t know that the other two closed. I think they were relatively small, as is this one, the third. I know a bunch of Catholic schools (elementary, high schools) closed after the scandals with the pedophile priests, because the Catholic church was losing money and losing enrollment in the schools.

Are Catholic colleges and universities in your area closing?

I’m not Catholic so I have no skin in this game, I’m just curious.

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Blackwater_Park's avatar

College enrollment is falling off a cliff. That’s probably part of the reason.
Universities have spent decades in an expansion arms race only to have the pandemic, labor shortage and some college-age population decline hit all at once. This is on top of the steep tuition that people are beginning to refuse to pay. The paper is no job guarantee like it once was. The result is more prestigious colleges get the students and the secondary and tertiary schools don’t. They’re in deep trouble. There is some underlying grade inflation going on as well where colleges realize they can’t flunk weaker-performing students as they did in the past. It’s all a big mess. When we see resumes of recent grads and they all have a 3.5 or higher we have no idea what we are getting. It’s like the survey you send out and everybody rates it perfect.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Self inflicted wounds, in two ways.

1) the priest child abuse scandals that have been going on for 20–25 years have soured an entire generation of Catholic youth on the so called ‘benefits’ of a catholic education. The abuse was all over the country – almost every state – so it was pretty universally seen as a catholic specific issue. Why would kids want to go to a university with such awful baggage?

2 Although many catholics believe strongly in the infallibility of the pope and the teachings of the Church, it is increasing clear that youth – the age cohort that is going to college nowadays – does not agree with the teachings of the church.

Sure, some youth do believe church teaching, but many other of that age group see Church teachings as obsolete – simply not in touch with their intelligence and values. There are so many areas where Catholicism is not where contemporary society is.

Just a few examples:
– abortion (a huge one for this age cohort)
– birth control
– inability for priests to marry (unrealistic in this day and age)
– homosexuality, gay marriage, transgender etc.
– the concept of an infallible pope (people have a very hard time with this)

and then lesser things like:
– the church’s legacy in WW2 cozying up to Hitler

Yes, the church stands on its theological foundations, as is its right and obligation. And history.

BUT the inexorable result of being so out of mainstream thought is that your religion loses adherents, which means they lose the next generation of Catholics, which in turn means they lose money, which in turn means the closure of schools and universities.

Short version: they did it to themselves.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t know if there are any Catholic colleges near me, but when I lived in Memphis Christian Brothers University was not far from me, and I just googled and it looks like they are struggling a little with enrollment. It is a very small school though. Here is an article.. I am kind of surprised enrollment is down there, the school has some degrees that are not widely found like packaging engineering.

I wonder if smaller schools are being hurt more in today’s climate?

I looked up the tuition and it is $18K per semester, pretty expensive, but a lot of schools have tuitions in that range. In state public universities are probably much less though.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

A Catholic school near me abruptly closed this year. Until you asked I did not know it was a trend.

Inside Higher Ed – April 12, 2023 – Cardinal Stritch to Close

Tropical_Willie's avatar

North Carolina has only one Catholic college and it is expanding.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I think Georgia only has 2 Catholic colleges & to my knowledge they are both still running.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know of any Catholic college. Lots of churches are closing though.

elbanditoroso's avatar


true, but Georgia has NEVER been Catholic country.

It has always been protestant of one sort or another – all sorts of Baptist sects, and evangelicals, and of course a ton of Methodists. But never the Catholic concentration that is up north.

So the fact that Georgia catholic colleges are still open doesn’t really mean anything. There are catholics here, just far fewer by percentage.

Forever_Free's avatar

Alive and well in New England

SnipSnip's avatar

Yes. Seventy-nine Catholic colleges were founded between 1830 and 1930 in nine Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana,Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Nine of these colleges remain in operation.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Looking at this question again, I suspect it is a small college problem in general, not specific to Catholic schools.

For example: WISN – Oct 17, 2023 – Universities of Wisconsin announces 1 campus to close, 2 others end in-person class

RocketGuy's avatar

I see @elbanditoroso ‘s point – My daughters avoided colleges in Red states for those reasons. I’m sure they’re not alone. That reduces enrollment in those states.

zenvelo's avatar

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, Holy Names College in Oakland closed earlier this year. But it was a very small school, and became affiliated with Dominican College in San Rafael, which is doing well.

Three other Catholic schools in the Bay Area are doing well: St. Mary’s in Moraga CA, University of San Francisco and University of Santa Clara.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

It is a small college problem. This is not a Catholic school thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackwater_Park That is what I pondered above, if smaller schools are struggling more in this climate. Is it because there is online classes, and small schools tend to be commuter schools so there isn’t much campus life anyway? Or, because of the constant messaging from the right wing not to get an education? Fewer international students coming to the US for school? The high cost of private colleges? What’s happening from your point if view?

My niece went to a small private college for a couple of years and I was so annoyed her mom pushed her to go there. Some friend of her mom suggested a small local school would be best. A lot of very rich kids there, which she is not, the tuition was very expensive, and no real campus life. The school was founded by a Catholic organization, I don’t know if it is still considered to be a Catholic school.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

See my first answer. There has been an expansion war between state schools and others to build up their campuses and get higher in the rankings. This has been a trend for over a decade. There is more carrying capacity at colleges than ever now. The numbers of college age students have recently dwindled somewhat and, many are not going to school at all. The more prestigious schools admit larger numbers of that dwindling crowd. Small schools just can’t compete so we are seeing them start to close.

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