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College of Saint Rose in Albany to close in 2024, according to reports

College of Saint Rose President Marcia White speaks at a press conference in October 2022.
Ashley Hupfl
/
WAMC
College of Saint Rose President Marcia White speaks at a press conference in October 2022.

The College of Saint Rose in Albany will close after a Board of Trustees vote today, according to reports. 

WNYT first reported that on Thursday the college’s Board of Trustees voted to shutter Saint Rose at the end of the Spring 2024 semester, news soon confirmed by statements from Capital Region lawmakers. Its communication office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The private college in Albany has been struggling financially for the past few years and recently asked the city for $5 million in emergency funding.

"This is about more than just one college. It is about the impact that would occur on a significant parcel of property in the center of Pine Hills that, you know, ultimately, if the College of Saint Rose isn't there, is going to need millions of dollars of economic development funding to redevelop,” Mayor Kathy Sheehan said. 

Shortly after the vote to close the college was announced, Capital Region state lawmakers released a joint statement, saying in part “We have worked with Saint Rose to find solutions as soon as they engaged with us and unfortunately any possible avenues to keep the College open have been exhausted despite our best efforts.” And “It is imperative we accelerate discussions surrounding the College’s 87 properties, their future use, and how we can minimize the immediate and long-term effects on our surrounding community, businesses, and the Pine Hills neighborhood more specifically.”

“My primary concern right now is the students," said Democratic State Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, chair of the body's Higher Education Committee. "We know that a lot of students, we lose track of those students, and they often don't finish. So I'm very, very focused on the students and then the neighborhood. That's a neighborhood that's had some challenges, especially the eastern end of the neighborhood. So we’re having a lot of conversations with folks on next steps."

Saint Rose has roughly 2,700 students.

10th ward Albany Common Councilor Owusu Anane tells WAMC he is devastated.

“I am shaken by the news. I know what the College of Saint Rose represents to the Pine Hills neighborhood, and what it represents to the city as a whole and the Capital Region. I'm an educator, and I'm always thinking about the students, and also the families. We rely on the kind of the same roles, particularly for the workforce, but also for the students for quality education, which Saint Rose provided for so many years,” Anane said. 

In March 2020 Marcia White was named the interim president of the college, taking the reins from outgoing Carolyn Stefanco, whose tenure saw a budget shortfall, staff cutbacks and the resignations of several trustees three years earlier.

The college discontinued a number of academic programs amid financial struggles. The Board of Trustees approved a plan to reduce expenses by nearly $6 million, including the elimination of 16 bachelor's degrees, six master's degrees and three certificate programs. Due to COVID-19 closures and having to send students home, Saint Rose suffered significant revenue losses from on-campus housing and a shrinking pool of applicants.

In August 2021 White was named president of the college and told WAMC that by 2023, Saint Rose would been on solid footing.

"We have a three-year financial plan. So we're planning for the future," White said. "And we're really evaluating everything we do at Saint Rose. And because we've been able to really evaluate our costs, and increase revenue from fundraising in other areas – I think that's really put us in much better stead."

In June the Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditor put Saint Rose on notice. A college spokesperson told WAMC on November 3rd that it “has no plan to announce a closure.”

Bruce Roter is a former music professor at the college who sued over his position’s elimination. He says the current structure has failed and adds the institution should be rebuilt, but not now and certainly not with tax dollars.

"I think it's very sad," Roter said. "And I'd like to believe that the college could have been saved years earlier. If the administration had taken a more open stance with seeking assistance from the many stakeholders of the institution, but my sense is that things were kept under wraps until it was too late.”

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.