Saint Joseph’s College says financial woes led to suspension of operations

The decision to temporarily suspend operations at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer came after a long-running pool of debt, the risk of losing accreditation and increased pressure from auditors that could've affected student loans, according to a school official.

Saint Joseph's officials announced Friday that the college would suspend all activities on campus for at least the 2017-18 academic year.

Benedict Sponseller, the board of trustees chairman, provided a group of faculty and staff Monday with a breakdown of why the board voted to suspend operations at the 125-year-old Catholic school. He said the college has been operating on an annual deficit of $4 million to $5 million year after year and has exhausted all its credit.

Public documents show the Higher Learning Commission placed the college on probation in November until 2018, citing "concerns related to resources, planning and institutional effectiveness; quality, resources and support of teaching and learning; as well as evaluation and improvement of teaching and learning."

Sponseller said the college wasn't going to be able to improve its financial status during the probationary period, which could've caused it to lose its accreditation in the middle of a semester, placing its more than 900 students in an even more difficult position.

"We've got HLC pretty much with a gun to our head," he said. "Not because they're not good people, but because we haven't satisfied their demands—not academically, but financially. They want a house in order that I could not see, and that my advisers on the board could not see, we could do in time to avoid our accreditation being pulled."
 

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