College of St. Joseph President Jennifer Scott said the college, which is facing the loss of its accreditation, may have found a “partner institution” that would keep CSJ open.
The accrediting body, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), notified CSJ officials in December that the small, independent college could lose its accreditation by the end of the spring semester unless proof is provided about the school’s financial stability.
On Thursday, Scott posted a message on the CSJ website that shared some news she had provided to faculty, staff and students of what Scott said she “believes is the best strategy for the institution to remain open and accredited.”
“NECHE has made it very clear that in order to remain accredited past August, we must be able to demonstrate with solid evidence that we have the financial resources in place to continue to support our students. To that end, I’m pleased to share with you that we are in talks with a potential partner institution, and I’m very optimistic about our plans to move forward,” Scott said in the statement.
The statement did not name the partner or even whether it was a Vermont institution.
NECHE placed CSJ’s accreditation on probation in August. Scott said in December that when CSJ officials first got the news, they believed the school would have two years to improve its finances.
But in December, CSJ received written notification that it has until April 1 to produce “material and substantial new evidence” of its financial viability.
In Thursday’s statement, Scott acknowledged that NECHE’s actions are still likely to affect the college.
“We are still working on the structure of this partnership as well as a transition plan to get us through the remainder of our probation period, but we’re feeling very positive at this point in the process,” Scott said.
The next steps for the plan include presenting it to the CSJ board of trustees. If the board approves it, the plan will be submitted, along with additional evidence, to NECHE.
In December, Scott said CSJ administrators created a financial plan in June.
“We have been faithful to that plan. We may have been thrown a couple curve-balls here and there but it doesn’t change our dedication and our commitment to our plan. We are focused and we are working hard every day to continue the work we set out to do,” she said.
Jay Kenlan, chairman of the board of trustees, said on Friday that he didn’t want to comment until after Scott presents the plan to the board Monday.
Scott could not be reached for comment Friday. David Balfour, vice president for academic affairs, said he couldn’t add anything to Scott’s statement.
CSJ is not the only small Vermont college struggling to stay open. Green Mountain College in Poultney and Southern Vermont College in Bennington have already announced they will close at the end of the current semester.
In Plainfield, Goddard College was placed on accreditation probation in November for up to two years for failing to meet financial requirements.
CSJ has continued to add new courses and host events allowing students to have a same-day decision on whether they will be accepted for the 2019-20 academic year.
Scott met with the CSJ community Wednesday. A Rutland Herald reporter was turned away from the meeting and told it was private.