Pastoor: 'Re-Engineered' St. Joe Could be Model

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(Image courtesy of Saint Joseph's College.) (Image courtesy of Saint Joseph's College.)
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The president of Saint Joseph's College says the school's financial difficulties were not kept a secret, a concern that has been raised by a group of alumni. Robert Pastoor says he can count 34 pieces of communication concerning the financial challenges since he addressed SJC's debt, aging infrastructure and decreasing enrollment in September 2015. The school's long-term needs are estimated at $100 million, a figure that gained public attention last month, following a letter Pastoor wrote to the SJC community. That figure, he says, has not been a secret.

Pastoor says the focus of his administration right now is to get SJC through the transition period that ends with graduation in May and set the course for a "re-engineered" version of the more than 125-year-old institution.

"That number, quite frankly," Pastoor told Inside INdiana Business, "was used the first time by a president that was here after Father Banet left. So that number has not been deviated from. I used that number in the summer of 2015, the first major donor that I met with and he asked me the question 'what's your guess as to what you're going to need?' And I said, to really fix all of this, it's going to be $100 million." Former President Rev. Charles Banet led the college from 1965-1993. Pastoor took the helm in 2015.

Pastoor's letter late last month expressed the "dire" financial state of Saint Joseph's. He said $20 million would be needed to keep the school at its current level of service for a year. A total of $100 million would be needed to sustain SJC in its current state for five or more years. Pastoor says the needs break down like this:

  • SJC has $27 million worth of debt
  • $35 million in infrastructure improvements would be needed for the aging campus
  • The balance of the estimate, some $38 million, would be used to "re-engineer" the college

Pastoor says "the fact of the matter is, we are operating under a broken business model and we are not alone in that. And I think that a lot of private, liberal arts institutions are dealing with the same kinds of issues, so re-engineering the college is still a necessary thing to do." He adds "if the school re-emerges within a year or two as a new institution, they're going to have to look for a president obviously to lead that charge, but I don't think that's going to be something that's there for me, no."

Whatever future institution rises after the transition period following May graduation, Pastoor says, "is going to be something that we are convinced can work and also we are convinced that we can be a model for other institutions to follow and that is the piece of the future I think that is kind of exciting for me and for those of us who are working here right now that they can be a part of down the road."

Saint Joseph's College President Robert Pastoor says the focus of his administration right now is to get SJC through the transition period that ends with graduation in May and set the course for a "re-engineered" version of the more than 125-year-old institution.
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