Campus Notebook: Saint Joseph's College in financial trouble; Silver Lake poised to gain Work College status

by Shireen Korkzan

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Rensselaer, Ind.Saint Joseph’s College President Robert A. Pastoor, says the college needs $100 million, with commitments of $20 million before June 1, to adequately serve its students and be successful in the higher education marketplace.

Pastoor said in Jan. 25 letter to the Saint Joseph’s College community that he and his staff have “exhausted possible strategies” to reverse the college’s “deteriorating financial trends.”

In November, the Higher Learning Commission issued a public disclosure notice stating Saint Joseph’s College would be put on probation until 2018 due to years of financial troubles. If the financial needs are not met, the institution may have to close permanently.

Greg Gill, director of marketing, told the Journal & Courier “the $100 million figure is the amount needed to address the college’s debt, deferred maintenance and other costs necessary to bring it to a financially healthy status.”

The board of trustees are meeting Feb. 2 and 3 to discuss the school’s future.

In response to Pastoor’s announcement, a Facebook page called Involved for Life was created to help save the struggling college. As of Friday, 1,449 people like the page.

About 1,200 students are currently enrolled at Saint Joseph’s College.

Manitowoc, Wis.Silver Lake College is poised to become both the first Catholic college in the nation and the first college in Wisconsin to adopt the Work College model.

Work Colleges integrate learning, work and service into their curriculum by requiring all students work outside of classes, regardless of major or financial need. Through this program, called SLC Works, students can build their resumes and reduce their loan debt by applying earnings towards education costs.

The program is mandatory for all students, including freshmen and transfer students. Underclassmen must work on campus, but juniors and seniors may work off campus for jobs or internships relevant to their degree programs.

Silver Lake College started the SLC Works program in the fall 2016 semester. After two years, the college will be eligible to apply for official Work College status.

There are currently seven Work Colleges in the country: Alice Lloyd College, Berea College, Blackburn College, College of the Ozarks, Ecclesia College, Sterling College and Warren Wilson College.

Belmont, Calif.Notre Dame de Namur University in California will honor environmental rights activist Berta Cáceres on campus Feb. 9 at the Cunningham Memorial Chapel, starting at 7 p.m. Cáceres was assassinated in her native Honduras in March 2016 after joining the indigenous Lenca people to oppose the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam, a proposed joint Honduran-Chinese project located in the Río Gualcarque.

Special guests will include a local delegation headed by Rev. Deborah Lee and Silvio Carillo, Cáceres’ nephew.

The honoring will take place at the annual commemoration of Sr. Dorothy Stang, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur congregation who was assassinated in her native Brazil in 2005 for speaking out for the poor and the environment. Stang, a naturalized Brazilian born in Ohio, is known today as the “Martyr of the Amazon” and has been recognized as a modern-day martyr by the Vatican. Her murder investigation is the subject of the 2008 documentary, "They Killed Sister Dorothy."

For more information, contact Jim McGarry at (650) 508-4120 or

Washington — The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities denounced President Trump’s executive order on U.S. immigration policy, which bans the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. on any visa category for 120 days. It also bars all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely. The countries listed in the temporary travel ban include Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“We stand in solidarity with other Catholic and higher education organizations that recognize the moral obligation of our country to assist migrants, particularly those who are fleeing any kind of persecution,” the ACCU said in a Jan. 29 press release.

The news release was published during the ACCU’s annual three-day meeting in Washington, which concluded Jan. 30. Presidents from 155 colleges affirmed the statement with their signatures.

This year’s theme for the annual meeting was “Inclusion on Campus: Exploring Diversity as an Expression of God’s Grandeur.”

Detroit — Two alumni of University of Detroit Mercy have donated $4.5 million in endowments to their alma mater.

Bernard Schlaff left $3 million in his will to establish an endowed scholarship for engineering students. After graduating from the university with a bachelor of aeronautical engineering degree in 1944, he worked for NASA's Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. and Boeing Aircraft Co. Schlaff died in 2015 at the age of 95.

Jane Kay Nugent has made a planned gift* of $1.5 million to the university with $1 million going to the Jane Kay Nugent Chair in the College of Business Administration and $500,000 going to the Jane Kay Nugent Endowed Scholarship to help women business students. Nugent graduated from Mercy in 1948 and went on to serve as president and board member of numerous organizations, businesses and committees, including the International Association for Personnel Women and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan. In 1982, she became the first woman vice president of administration at the Detroit Edison Co., now known as the DTE Electric Company. Nugent was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988.

*This story has been updated to correct language about the donation.

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