RENSSELAER, Ind. (WLFI) - After three years of waiting, alumni of St. Joseph's College have learned the plan for the future of the school. The school's Board of Trustees approved a three-year plan that’s aimed at bringing life back to campus.
SJC spokesperson Dr. William Carroll said this plan is the future of small liberal arts colleges.
"Those colleges that are not flexible will die. Those who are able to change quickly and nimbly will survive for the future," he said. "Our goal is not to recreate St. Joseph's of 2015. Our goal is to create a St. Joseph's of the future."
Dr. Carroll said that when the school closed down in 2017, the board promised that staff would submit a plan by the end of 2019 for review. He said the plan will move the college forward with two parts.
Part one is the University Center. This will start with a two-year associate degree anchor program that can either stand on its own, funnel into a bachelor’s degree at Saint Joseph’s, or transfer out to one of the college's partner institutions. Dr. Carroll said he's currently working to expand that list of institutions.
As we previously reported, SJC has partnered with Ivy Tech and started offering classes at the Rensselaer campus in January.
The statement SJC released about the plan says the goal is to start offering these courses with partners in the fall of 2021, and has plans to expand the University Center to offer four-year bachelor's programs by the fall of 2023.
Part two of the plan is called the Career College, which is focused on providing students with professional certifications.
"There is much conversation and criticism, rightfully so, that higher education institutions do not prepare students for work," he said. "So there is big emphasis on certificate programs that teach work skills that students can take these certificates and be eligible for jobs."
Dr. Carroll said they hope be ready to offer the Certified Nursing Assistant program as early as March 9th. The press release on the plan says that SJC is already state-approved to offer CNA, Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), Electrocardiogram (CET), and Phlebotomy (CPT) certifications.
Thomas Gandolph is a Class of 1999 alumnus of SJC. He, like many other alumni, have strong family connections to the college. His brother and father are also graduates of the college. He said he is supportive of the plan.
"I like it just because something is happening," he said. "I mean anything going on on campus is a good thing."
Gandolph played for the SJC baseball team during his time on campus. He said the closure of his alma mater came as a shock, but he thinks the school is bouncing back the best way it can.
"This is an entire school. This is a 128 year school, you don't just turn it around in three years when you have to close up everything," he said.
Dr. Carroll said this plan is flexible and will most likely see some changes. He and Gandolph agree that patience is key right now.
"Just be patient, be supportive," said Gandolph.
The goal is for St. Joseph's College to be ready to reapply for Accreditation Eligibility Status in spring of 2024.
Dr. Carroll said they are also open to feedback about the plan. He said people can contact their new communications director, alumna Beth Graf, at the college phone number. Or he said you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.