They survived both World Wars. These colleges, however, won’t survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Concordia College, outside Manhattan, New York, will close its doors in the fall, the school announced Thursday — adding to a growing list of colleges and universities that are shutting down for good amid the ongoing public health crisis.
Another school, Iona College, will acquire the campus and allow students to finish their degrees with Iona. Concordia, a liberal arts college that has been operational since 1881, has about 1,500 students.
While Concordia has faced challenges in recent years, the school’s financial problems were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Concordia College wrote in a statement on the school website: The decision was made through a “deliberative, thoughtful and strategic process, informed by immutable business realities.”
Nearly a year into the ravaging pandemic, Concordia isn’t alone.
MacMurray College, which had been one of the oldest colleges originally for women in the United States and one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in Illinois, closed it doors in March 2020.
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Charles O’Connell, chairman of MacMurray’s board of trustees, told the Springfield State Journal-Register of the USA TODAY Network that the pandemic and subsequent economic disruption had been factors that complicated the college’s financial troubles.
MacMurray was founded in 1846, meaning the college also weathered the Civil War in the 1860sand the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. So did Urbana University in Ohio, which was founded in 1850, but shut down in April 2020.
“The global coronavirus pandemic has added a level of stress and uncertainty to Urbana’s prospects that make it impossible to sustain,” the university said in a news release.
For others, such as Wisconsin’s 136-year-old Holy Family College, the “significant” financial hit from coronavirus “made an already tough situation unsustainable.” The school announced last August that it would close in May.
These colleges aren’t the only ones to shut their doors and some fear they won’t be the last. Among small private schools, especially in Wisconsin, there’s a sense of mourning.
“I think all of us hope that we’re never in this situation,” said Christine Pharr, president of Mount Mary University in Milwaukee.
“It makes me incredibly sad,” she said of Holy Family’s closure, noting the loss of history, of careers and of a community. “These are really hard times and COVID-19 is not making it any easier.”
Contributing: Ryan Santistevan, Rockland/Westchester Journal News, Jennifer Smola, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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