Saint Joseph's Students, Faculty Scrambling

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(Image courtesy of Saint Joseph's College.) (Image courtesy of Saint Joseph's College.)

Two days after the Saint Joseph's College Board of Trustees voted to suspend activities on the Rensselaer campus, students and faculty are searching for answers. A source with close knowledge of the situation tells Inside INdiana Business one of the issues that led to the school's "dire" financial situation is a trust involving land some say is worth up to $75 million, but would only be able to sell for $15 million because of restrictions in place. Purdue University has already reached out to the college, offering assistance and resources for students wishing to transfer.

The land in question was gifted to the school by a frequent donor family. However, the source tells Inside INdiana Business that the Mayo Clinic, another frequent beneficiary of the family, had rights to purchase the land, and was only offering $15 million. The site is on 7,600 acres of farmland in White County, which includes several wind turbines.

In late January, Saint Joseph's College officials said the school would need $100 million, including $20 million by June 1st, to continue providing its current level of services. The board voted Friday evening to suspend activities on the Rensselaer campus. Programs outside of that campus, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Lafayette, will continue.

The school has about 200 employees and more than 900 students. The source tells Inside INdiana Business that "no specific direction" has been given yet about the next steps, but administrators will likely soon meet with students. The college also says it will launch a "Teach-Out" program to help connect students with opportunities at other schools.

In a letter to St. Joseph's College President Robert Pastoor and Vice President For Academic Affairs Chad Pulver, Purdue President Mitch Daniels said the school would offer "concierge-level service to any student in good standing who wishes to apply to Purdue for transfer." 

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