St. Joe Chair Tells Board's Side

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RENSSELAER -

The chair of the Board of Trustees at Saint Joseph's College is providing his explanation of what went into the school's announcement to suspend operations in Rensselaer at the end of the current school year. Ben Sponseller, a 1970 St. Joe graduate, says his heart has been broken by the decision that he adds "wasn't made quickly or lightly."

In an updated Frequently Asked Questions section on the SJC website, Sponseller says one board member in particular has been cautioning the rest of the board for more than a decade that the school needed to increase both enrollment and donation levels. He then breaks down contributing factors such as tuition discounts for students and additional financial factors that ultimately helped drive the school to its current situation, which includes a debt load of $27 million, nearly $14 million annually in tuition discounts and scholarships and an anticipated $35 million in deferred maintenance costs if the school continued to operate as it has.

He cites reasons for the decision that include failed efforts by SJC to boost enrollment and an inability to "tap into alumni giving as much as we needed to." Sponseller also added "many people are under the mistaken impression that a re-emergence of SJC is a foregone conclusion and that it will happen very soon."

Sponseller's LinkedIn profile says he has been with the SJC board since 2003. He has served as chair since 2013.

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