Notre Dame de Namur University closed its Tracy satellite campus Thursday, but students in Tracy classes are continuing their studies online.
That message was transmitted by email to Tracy supporters Wednesday evening, signaling the end of five years of the university’s presence in Tracy.
The statement, which was sent to members of the Tracy City Council and Tracy Consortium of Higher Education along with other supporters, reflects the views of the Notre Dame board of trustees and administration.
Closing the Tracy office and classroom spaces in the Opera House building didn’t come as a complete surprise, since Notre Dame has been struggling in recent years to cope with financial problems and declining enrollment at its main campus in Belmont on the San Francisco Peninsula.
The statement sent to Tracy supporters emphasizes that, for the Tracy campus, online instruction may extend until all current students are able to graduate by the spring of 2021.
When classes began in 2015 at the Sixth Street transit station, “optimistic projections for enrollment, if realized, could have led to the financial stability of the campus,” the statement said.
The statement outlines the expansion of NDNU’s offerings in Tracy:
- 2015: BS in business administration and MBA.
- 2017: BS in human services and multiple-subject and single-subject teaching credentials.
- 2018: MA and credential in special education.
- 2019: BS in criminal justice offered, but enrollment numbers not high enough to start.
“Since the program started in 2015, NDNU has enrolled 128 students in its various programs. Of these, 50 have graduated or completed degrees by May 2020, with additional students (probably 10 at least) finishing by May 2021.”
The statement continues: “Unfortunately, enrollment in Tracy has fallen from 63 students in the fall semester of 2018 to the current total of 44 students, 35 percent of the projected enrollment for this time. “These shortfalls in enrollment make operating a stand-alone campus unsustainable….”
Roger Birdsall, president of the Tracy Consortium for Higher Education, which was instrumental in bringing Notre Dame classes to Tracy, countered that he had been told that the university’s program in Tracy “was in the black financially and not a drag on the whole university.”
Birdsall said he wished Notre Dame would have put more resources and emphasis into promoting the recruitment of students. He reported that the consortium plans to renew its efforts to bring a university or college program to Tracy.
The Notre Dame statement said the university “is extremely grateful to the City of Tracy, to the Tracy Consortium for Higher Education and staff and faculty for their collaboration and support of our campus and students in San Joaquin County,” mentioning in particular “the generosity” of donations of scholarship funds for Tracy students.