In a letter to the St. Joseph’s College community, Board Chairman Larry Hemmelgarn and Rector Barry Fischer expressed "mutual desire to collaborate" on Marian University’s new, two-year college announced Wednesday in Indianapolis. Plans call for classes at the yet-to-be-named institution to begin in a year. During an interview with Inside INdiana Business following the announcement, Marian President Dan Elsener said his school has had "fruitful" discussions with St. Joe leaders and "we could collaborate and they could contribute to the success of this."

St. Joe is in the process of being re-created after massive financial issues led to the suspension of operations on the Rensselaer campus in 2017. Hemmelgarn and Fischer said in the aforementioned letter "there is tremendous progress being made toward this collaboration (with Marian), and we remain confident our shared mission and past experiences can meld in some way to better serve students and the common good than we could possibly accomplish alone."

Neither the letter nor Wednesday’s interview with Elsener included specific details on how a partnership involving the two institutions and a two-year college would ultimately play out, but both parties expressed enthusiasm for ongoing discussions. "If St. Joe were to collaborate with us on this," Elsener told Inside INdiana Business, "they have great alumni, they have a great board and very dedicated priests and brothers that started that school. If we learn that we collaborate well together here on this project, we could do a feasibility study and look at a rural version at a place like Rensselaer. They have buildings there, so we’ll see how it evolves, but right now, out discussions are positive, fruitful."

In May, over 40 St. Joe students displaced by St. Joe halting operations transferred to Marian and finished their bachelor’s degrees.

Marian’s two-year college will be located in a building on West 30th Street near its Indianapolis campus on the city’s west side.

The letter to the St. Joe community reads:

Dear SJC Alumni and Friends,

This morning at 10:00 EDT Marian University hosted a press conference announcing the creation of a new two-year college to open adjacent to the Indianapolis campus in the fall of 2019.

The leadership of Marian University and Saint Joseph’s College have been in conversation for some time regarding our mutual desire to collaborate on this endeavor in some fashion. We are working through the desired outcomes of our collaboration and articulating the spirit and substance of what each party will contribute to the two-year college.

It was determined that we would bring more positive attention to the potential of this dynamic collaboration through separate announcements. Be assured, there is tremendous progress being made toward this collaboration, and we remain confident our shared mission and past experiences can meld in some way to better serve students and the common good than we could possibly accomplish alone.

This is a perfect fit for the historical mission of Saint Joseph’s College, namely providing an education for those who may not otherwise have an opportunity for advanced education. The Missionaries of the Precious Blood founded the college at the request of Bishop Dwenger because there was no Catholic college in the diocese.

Throughout its history, the college completely re-created itself several times to meet the needs of students, the Church and the area at the time. We are in the midst of that process once again. The two-year college model is not only innovative, it is revolutionary in its approach to making a college education available to an underserved population.

Like our unique CORE program, this new model has the potential to radically impact educational models as we move into the future and we are enthused to be involved from its inception. What we learn from our involvement in this endeavor in Indianapolis will help us as we strive to re-animate our own campus in Rensselaer.

The Saint Joseph’s College Board of Trustees and the Phoenix Team are very excited about the two-year college. We hope our excitement is contagious as it is a step in continuing and advancing Saint Joseph’s College, impacting students’ lives and securing its mission of education for all into the future. Please join us in prayer for success for the two-year college, its future students and our participation.

With appreciation for your support and prayers for the success of this endeavor, we remain

  • Rev. Larry J. Hemmelgarn, C.PP.S., Chairman, SJC Board of Trustees
  • Rev. Barry Fischer, C.PP.S., Rector, Saint Joseph’s College

P.S. Following is the announcement that Marian University made at their press conference for your easy reference.

Marian University President Dan Elsener told Inside INdiana Business in an interview following Wednesday morning’s announcement that discussions have been ongoing about potential partnership with St. Joe on Marian’s new, two-year college.

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