Dowling College closing
According to an AP story, Dowling College, an NCAA Division II school on Long Island, is closing. The institution is apparently over $54 million in debt, and enrollment has dropped 50 percent since 2009.
The AP reports that “President Albert Inserra says in a statement that the school will cease operations on Friday.” The only information on the Dowling web site thus far is a prominent announcement that the summer 1 and 2 sessions have been canceled.
“As painful as this announcement is we want the student body, faculty and alumni to know that we made every effort to form a suitable academic affiliation so that we could keep the college open,” Inserra said. “This painful decision is a reflection of the unprecedented financial challenges facing countless private educational institutions across the nation and the difficult choices that many must now face.”
Dowling has sponsored Division II men’s and women’s lacrosse for many years. The men’s team won the national championship in 2012, and the women’s team made the NCAA tournament this year, winning a first round game.
On Wednesday morning there was a significant line of students waiting to get copies of their transcripts.
Students at Dowling College waiting in line for hours to get transcripts before school closes down Friday pic.twitter.com/FQ1IEbbTGP
— Kristin Thorne (@KristinThorne) June 1, 2016
A New York Board of Regents official said Dowling is about $54 million in debt.
Dowling College closing is just latest school to shut down
Dowling is the latest in a series of small private colleges that have shut their doors amid financial trouble. This month, Burlington College in Vermont, formerly led by the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, said it will close after taking on heavy debt.
About one-third of all colleges and universities in the U.S. are on an unsustainable financial path, according to a 2012 report from consulting firm Bain & Co. While some of the schools on that list have resources, like a large endowment and a steady enrollment base, that could help them stave off closure, smaller, private colleges “need to be on the lookout,” Jeff Denneen, the leader of Bain’s higher education practice and one of the authors of the report, said in an interview.
“They have many fewer degrees of freedom and a much shorter runway to get things in order and I think that’s a little bit of what you saw at Sweet Briar,” he said.
Declining enrollments fueled by relatively flat high school graduation rates and increased competition from online competitors are squeezing private schools with fewer than 5,000 students, particularly those that draw on their local region in areas like the rural northeast and some of the Midwest, Fizgerald said. But one of the biggest challenges facing this group of schools is the crisis in college affordability.