Holy Cross College to sell land to Notre Dame to shore up finances woes

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Holy Cross College (Jon Zimney/95.3 MNC)

Holy Cross College will sell 75 acres of land where the campus sits to the University of Notre Dame for $15 to $20 million, according to WNDU.

The University will then lease the land back to Holy Cross College for $1 a year, WNDU reported.

The transaction is being made in an effort to shore up financial woes at Holy Cross College.

The Board of Trustees at Holy Cross College approved the plan on Friday, May 12.

The announcement comes just days after a Holy Cross employee sent a troubling email about the finances of the school, then left his post.

RELATED: Email paints dismal picture of Holy Cross College finances

RELATED: Holy Cross employee that sent troubling email no longer employed by college

Holy Cross College released the following statement:

NOTRE DAME, IN (May 12, 2017) –Holy Cross College will be partnering with the University of Notre Dame on one initiative that is part of a long-term financial sustainability plan to address the financial concerns recognized by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the college’s Board of Trustees.

The HLC reaffirmed the accreditation of Holy Cross College for 10 years—the maximum amount of time allowed—in the fall of 2016.

“The HLC’s reaffirmation and accreditation of Holy Cross College is an endorsement of the college’s quality, reputation and student formation-focused programs,” says Justin Watson, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs. “The HLC team noted that Holy Cross operates with integrity, and it has continued its transformation from a two-year to a four-year college with changes to its curriculum that enhance the students’ academic experience and success.”

In its final report, the HLC recommended follow-up steps in its evaluation of the college’s financial sustainability, including developing a four-year financial plan to be submitted in June 2017. The HLC report identified Holy Cross College’s dependence on short-term lines of credit and the redirection of restricted gifts to balance budgets and finance its operations, as well as its reliance on long-term debt to fund growth as financial risks to be addressed.

The Holy Cross College Board of Trustees had also recognized these issues during its strategic planning process last year and the HLC report confirmed the exigency of a multi-year financial plan.

“Although a great deal of attention has been given to Holy Cross’s financial position lately, the Board of Trustees has been working on a robust and sustainable financial plan since the beginning of the academic year,” says Dave Bender, chair of the Holy Cross College Board of Trustees. “The opinions and rumors that have been circulating recently are not reflective of the work the Board of Trustees and administration have done to secure the future of the college.”

While the interim president and administration of the college are developing the financial plan for the HLC, the Board of Trustees has focused on independent strategic plan initiatives. As part of those initiatives, the college approached the University of Notre Dame with a proposal that the university purchase 75 acres of land owned by Holy Cross College and the Brothers of Holy Cross Midwest Province on the west side of State Road 933 and south of Holy Cross Village. Notre Dame would then lease the property back to the college to support its ongoing operations.

“We are pleased to announce that an agreement on all sides has been reached and will be submitted for final review and approval by the members of the Corporation, the Congregation of Holy Cross Superior General, and the Holy See,” says Bender.

The Holy Cross College Board is confident that this arrangement with Notre Dame will provide Holy Cross with the financial capital to meet operating needs, as well as reduce the college’s need for long-term debt and short-term credit.

“Holy Cross and Notre Dame have successfully collaborated on a number of formal and informal initiatives over the years, and both institutions recognized that this was another good opportunity to work together,” says Bender. “Although we will not be releasing the details of this private agreement, we can assure the entire Holy Cross community that it will have a stabilizing impact on the college and will allow us to confidently plan for the future.”

The HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region of the United States. It is one of six regional accrediting associations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The HLC was created to develop and maintain high standards of academic excellence. Receiving HLC accreditation means an institution meets recognized standards of education regarding its mission, governance, teaching and learning, financial stability, and relations with its constituents, as well as federal compliance requirements.

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