The Reports of My (Our) Death Have been Greatly Exaggerated
These purported words of Mark Twain can aptly be applied to Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, IN. A recent book entitled The Requiem for a College describes the slow and agonizing journey to the eventual “closure” of Saint Joseph's College. The 2017 “closure” did not happen in a single year or under the auspices of a single group but was the result of a decades long decline.
The Trustees intent was not to close the College but simply to suspend operations. In its 134-year history, the College had gone through many different iterations; 2017 simply marked the beginning of a new iteration. The intent was to return to operation as a model 21st century college. One of the first steps in this new iteration was to work with Dr. William J. Carroll, Hunter Global Education president. Carroll has much experience in developing academic programming and led Benedictine University for twenty years, which was “the fastest growing university” in its category for ten years (The Chronicle of Education).
The Deck of Cards Dealt
During this time of return, the world experienced the largest pandemic in recent history, a demographic decline in traditional age students, and a declining of interest in degree programming. These environmental challenges required a different kind of higher educational institution—basically, a rethinking of how colleges need to function to be successful. To address the needs of today, the College established two tracks: certificate programming and partnership with traditional universities to offer traditional degree opportunities. All educational delivery systems were in play—online, traditional classrooms, hybrid, etc.
The “new” Saint Joseph’s College has returned alive and well. State-of-the-art facilities allow the College to offer an ongoing array of exciting and new programs to meet the needs of the community. The College delivers traditional degree programs through partner universities. For the non-degree seeking student, the College offers a variety of certificate programs in healthcare and executive education. New certificate programs are introduced on a regular basis. In its outreach to the community, Saint Joseph’s Meeting and Conference Center provides the perfect venue for corporate events such as training sessions, workshops, seminars, after hours business meetups, and networking events. Through its Core Coworking Center, the College provides individuals and organizations the use of its state-of-the-art facilities to complete a project or to engender a new business. These varied offerings allow Saint Joseph's College to serve as a unique component for the community.
Looking for a few Entrepreneurial Universities for Unique Partnerships
So where does the College go from here? The health certificate programs have almost 200 graduates. A recent survey conducted of these individuals regarding their desire to continue a nursing education received positive feedback from most of the graduates. The “new” Saint Joseph’s College does not have a nursing program and seeks a university partner with a nursing program. The search for university partners is not limited to nursing but extends to many other areas.
In today's upside-down world of higher education, liberal arts colleges are learning that they cannot make it on their own. Partnerships are the way of the future. Our institutions do not have to be all things to all people. Through unique partnerships, we can serve local populations, reduce our costs, increase our enrollment, and expand our territory. Saint Joseph's College extends a warm welcome to entrepreneurial institutions seeking to develop unique partnerships for the 21st century. To begin a conversation, please contact Bill Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org.