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Cardinal Stritch part of national trend of universities, colleges closing down

Cardinal Stritch isn't alone. Dozens of schools across the country have shut down in the last three years.
Cardinal Stritch University
Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-11 19:22:54-04

MILWAUKEE — Cardinal Stritch University in Fox Point announced that it will close at the end of this school year. President Dr. Dan Scholz cited fiscal realities, a downward enrollment trend, the pandemic and the need for more resources as reasons for the shutdown.

But Cardinal Stritch isn't alone. Dozens of schools across the country have shut down in the last three years.

"It was a new game, a new day, and this is true across the country. Higher education institutions' worlds were rocked," said UWM Chancellor Mark Mone of the impact the pandemic had on colleges and universities

Mone is also the founding chair of Higher Education Regional Alliance (HERA), which includes 18 institutions in southeast Wisconsin like UWM, Marquette, MATC, and Alverno.

Looking at those four schools, enrollment has decreased for all over the last 10 years.

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"What keeps me up at night, of course, is some of the financial issues. We've had a tuition freeze for a decade, that's recently been changed so that will help a little bit. Some of the enrollments, the demographics, we're running out of teenagers," Mone said of the challenges UWM has faced as well as higher education institutions across the board.

Declining enrollment at schools is also a concern for Marquette President Michael Lovell.

"We have a lot of headwinds and we know that demographics and enrollments are going to be decreasing over the next few years," Lovell said.

Higher Ed Dive reports that this year alone six colleges and universities across the country, in addition to Cardinal Stritch, have made the decision to close. Two of those schools are also in the Midwest, one in Michigan and one in Iowa.

Since 2020, 38 schools have closed. Many cited declining enrollment.

"I think this is a sad indicator of the challenges that are happening in higher education today. I think it is a wake-up call if you weren't already aware of the plight and the scenario facing higher education today," Mone said.

Mone says merging and consolidation may be something smaller schools have to look into going forward. He and Lovell agree that without significant change, we could see more regional schools closing in the next few years.

"For most university private schools that rely so much on tuition, financially they're challenged so I do have a fear that more schools may close in the future," Lovell said.

Mone added, "It's likely something we will see more of and I think that it does raise a challenge in society, employment-wise, regionally, and economically."

Mone said that HERA schools are ready to welcome Cardinal Stritch students to their campuses and are working on plans to make that transition as seamless as possible.

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