Marian University sees surge of former St. Joseph College students

A university in Indianapolis has taken in nearly 80 former students from a northwest Indiana college that closed in May.

Marian University has one of the largest concentrations of displaced St. Joseph College students in the state, The Indianapolis Star reported. Several hundred other St. Joseph students have been scattered among dozens of colleges and universities since the school's board voted in February to suspend operations.

Chad Pulver, vice president for academic affairs at St. Joseph, said Marian was the first in the line of more than 80 schools that helped find students a place to land.

The schools have things in common: They're Catholic institutions and members of Independent Colleges of Indiana. St. Joseph's campus in Rensselaer is 90 minutes north of Marian.

About 15 years ago, Marian was in the same financial position that forced St. Joseph to close its doors. The university bounced back, but it hasn't been so long that president Daniel Elsener has forgotten the feeling.

"When you're at a place and it's precarious, you walk by young people that are depending on the place. … and the thought going through your head is that some day in the future you'll have to call them all into the auditorium and say, 'Hey, this is over,'" Elsener said. "That's trauma."

Elsener said the university's current financial health is a blessing that isn't taken lightly. He said being able to take in students who were losing their school feels a bit like coming full circle.

"We're pretty excited about it," he said. "I wish they didn't have to go through the trauma of having their institution close. … but we're glad to have their talented students here."

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