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NDNU is one chapter in quest for local college

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Notre Dame de Namur University

Notre Dame de Namur University’s former Tracy campus was in the Opera House building at Ninth Street and Central Avenue.

Notre Dame de Namur University, which offered classes in Tracy for five years before closing down its Tracy program last April, will continue operating at its Belmont main campus in a reduced fashion and won’t be completely closed.

That decision was made recently by the Catholic university’s board of directors and subsequently approved by the Sisters of Notre Dame, announced the university’s president, Dan Carey, in a statement released this week.

Notre Dame will restrict its operation at Belmont to offering on-line classes, graduate classes and teacher-degree classes, Carey reported. He did not mention the closed Tracy program, which didn’t surprise Roger Birdsall, president of the Tracy Consortium for Higher Education, which worked to bring Notre Dame de Namur classes to Tracy in 2015.

“That’s my interpretation of Carey’s statement,” Birdsall said. “There is no consideration being given to restarting classes in Tracy.”

The Tracy program started classes in August 2015 with six students — three in MBA (Master of Business Administration) and three in the business administration bachelor’s program. By the fall of 2017, there were more than 60 registered students.

Students who took Notre Dame classes in Tracy but didn’t have sufficient credits to graduate can enroll in online classes during the spring semester, which began Jan. 11, said Greg White, the university’s vice president for academic affairs.

White stressed Notre Dame classes this spring will be online. Only a few requiring hands-on participation will be considered for Belmont campus offerings.

Beginning this summer and continuing in the fall and beyond, enrollment of new students will be limited to graduate and teacher-credential students, An undergraduate degree-completion program could be added in the future.

The university is selling a portion of its valuable campus property in Belmont to raise funds to stay in operation, said Carey, the Notre Dame de Namur president.

“NDNU will depend on ongoing financial support from donors, alumni and friends, and collaboration from local government and community agencies to help rebuild and stabilize the university,” Carey said.

Birdsall reported that the Tracy Consortium for Higher Education will remain active and once the COVID-19 pandemic subsidies will be in contact with potential colleges and universities that may have an interest in locating a program, or even a campus, in Tracy.

“We know from our experience with Notre Dame de Namur that there is a demand for higher-education classes in Tracy,” he stressed. “We aren’t giving up.”

Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.

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