It wasn’t the best of news, but it could have been a lot worse for the College of New Rochelle; which announced its likely closure before the upcoming fall semester on Friday, February 22.
Fortunately for CNR, neighboring Mercy College, with a campus at 1200 Waters Place, inked a memorandum of understanding to essentially absorb the college on Monday, February 25.
Both schools acknowledged CNR’s ‘significant cash flow challenges’ resulting from a finical crisis at the college in 2016 as the primary reason for the projected closure.
“Mercy is uniquely positioned financially and academically to offer current CNR students uninterrupted pathways to continue the education they sought at CNR,” wrote Mercy College president, Tim Hall, in a prepared statement.
The MOU is contingent on a separate board vote by each of the colleges, which is anticipated to happen by the end of this week.
CNR spokesman Geoff Thompson said that the vote would essentially be a formality for the two schools.
“CNR felt it needed to inform its bond holders of its current financial situation immediately, and at the same time make its community aware of matters,” Hall’s statement continued.
Until that formal vote is cast, details on the merger can’t be disclosed, according to Thompson.
“I promise in the upcoming weeks to provide additional information through updates and town halls so that you can be part of the effort to welcome the members of the CNR family into the Mercy family,” Hall’s statement saod.
Thompson confirmed to an anxious CNR community that any student in good academic standing will be allowed admittance to Mercy College without going through a cumbersome transfer process.
“Every effort will be made to ensure that, to the extent possible, students are not displaced physically in terms of where they study,” CNR released in a statement.
Both Westchester-based colleges have Bronx campuses such as Mercy’s Hutch Metro Center campus and CNR’s Co-op City School of New Resources.
That Co-op City campus may be closed because of Mercy’s Hutch Metro campus’ close proximity, stated Thompson.
“It’s up in the air right now,” he said.
CNR representatives also explained that Mercy’s 90 plus undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs within its five schools align well with CNR.
“The discussions are now focused on finalizing an arrangement with that institution that would meet the continuing educational needs of CNR’s students without interruption and may necessitate the retention of a number of faculty and staff,” the CNR statement continued.
One strategy Mercy College has considered is to lease portions of CNR’s New Rochelle and Bronx campuses for “a period of time.”
In the wake of the news, both Hall and CNR president William Lattimer hosted town hall style meetings with students and faculty of the respective schools on Tuesday, February 26.
Both presidents had also ensured that the colleges are aiming to make sure that the transfer process to Mercy will not result in a tuition increase.
The exact timing of CNR’s closure is still undetermined according to Mercy College.
“It may go until the end of the summer semesters or be closed immediately after the spring one,” he said.
Amidst the rush and confusion, Hall’s sentiment of unity between the schools had remained.
“This is a difficult time for the CNR community, but Mercy is committed to helping CNR’s students along their educational journeys and to helping preserve the history and legacy of CNR into the future,” he stated.
Iona College, also in New Rochelle had its eyes on CNR’s nursing program. It is not clear at press time whether Iona will pursue its own nursing degree program.