St. Catharine College closing due to low enrollment and debt obl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

St. Catharine College closing due to low enrollment and debt obligations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- St. Catharine College is closing its doors at the end of July.

After numerous recent meetings of the St. Catharine College Board of Trustees, chairman John Turner announced at campus-wide faculty and staff meeting on Wednesday that the College would be closing.

St. Catharine College is located in Washington County, Kentucky, just south of Bardstown.

The board of trustees voted to close the school on Tuesday night. School officials blame that on a dispute with the department of education. The closure is devastating news to students, faculty and staff.

"It hurts. It really does. It's a big shock to everyone. It is a big blow and a huge disappointment," said Lindsey Vinson, who is a graduate and assistant women's soccer coach at St. Catharine College.

Students, faculty and staff are trying to wrap their heads around the decision by the board of trustees.

"The decision was a very difficult one," said Dr. Cindy Gnadinger, President of St. Catharine College.

Dr. Gnadinger said the dispute with the Department of Education doomed the college.

"That has killed our institution, and I'm very angry about it, and our community should be angry about it as well."

Dr. Gnadinger said the Department of Education wrongly withheld student aid, which caused a significant decline in enrollment.

"So they admitted their error, but they've not compensated us. And ... that's led to the closure of this school."

St. Catharine is known for health sciences. Right now, administrators are working to find colleges willing to take the programs and students.

"We have teach out agreements with several other institutions, including Bellarmine University, Georgetown College and Midway University," Dr. Gnadinger. said.

The college will officially close on July 31, but everyone is still hoping, or praying, for a miracle.

"I would love a last-minute stay," Dr. Gnadinger said. "I would love that more than anything."

Dr. Gnadinger said $5 million would save the school and provide some relief while administrators work thru the issues with the Department of Education.

The Archbishop of Louisville Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz released the following statement about the school's closure:

"I join with the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Louisville in expressing my deep sadness at the news regarding the closing of Saint Catharine College.  For some time, the Archdiocese has been aware of the economic difficulties the college has been facing, and we affirm the work of President Gnadinger and the Board of Trustees in their exhaustive attempts to try to address these challenges.

Serving Central Kentucky and the Church for nearly 200 years, Saint Catharine has educated thousands, providing a robust Dominican education through its four pillars of prayer, study, ministry, and community. Alumni greatly benefited from the strong Catholic identity and excellent education of this fine institution.

We are grateful to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, whose charisma and dedication animated Saint Catharine throughout its history, and to all of the administrators, faculty, and staff who have served the college so well. I especially appreciate the strenuous efforts of President Gnadinger and her staff to assist students during this sad transition.

This is a tremendous loss for the Archdiocese of Louisville and for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. My prayers are with the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Saint Catharine College."

Lawsuit: U.S. Department of Education admits it erred in withholding student aid to St. Catharine College

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