Villanova University has come to a tentative agreement to buy Cabrini University, a nearby Catholic institution that has struggled mightily with financial problems in recent years. Under the deal, which was announced Friday in a joint statement from the two institutions’ presidents, Cabrini will remain open next academic year for incoming and current students and then close its doors in June 2024.
Cabrini, which was founded by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1957, had been exploring merger and acquisition options for some time, owing to a growing financial deficit from declining enrollment, the pandemic, and a decade of economic problems. The statement from Villanova President Peter M. Donohue and Cabrini President Helen Drinan described Cabrini’s operating deficit as “insurmountable.”
The statement continued, “with all other possible options exhausted and having determined that they must conclude their operations, Cabrini University initiated discussions with Villanova around a plan that would preserve Cabrini’s legacy and mission and honor the original intention for the Cabrini campus to promote opportunities in Catholic education.”
As part of the deal, Cabrini will continue its operations for the 2023-24 academic year for incoming freshman, sophomore, and junior classes and allow its class of 2024 to go through graduation.
Cabrini and Villanova will share counseling and resources to support Cabrini students throughout the academic year to develop individualized transfer plans enabling them to complete their degrees as well as support Cabrini faculty and staff in identifying potential employment opportunities.
Once Cabrini operations conclude, Villanova will assume ownership of the campus. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but more information about it is expected as soon as the details have been worked out. The deal will also require approval by the institutions’ accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
According to the joint statement, “Villanova will preserve Cabrini University’s legacy, both in name and in the continuation of some of the institution’s most impactful work in education, nursing, service, immigration, and the advancement of women.”
Villanova also has not yet decided how it will use the Cabrini Campus, but according to reporting in the The Philadelphia Inquirer, preliminary plans are for it to be known as Villanova’s Cabrini campus.
Cabrini University has a current total enrollment of about 1,600 students, a huge drop from the approximately 2,300 it enrolled in 2016. It has run an annual operating deficit for ten consecutive years, and despite recent attempts to restructure and reduce those deficits, its financial plight was too severe for it to remain sustainable.
Villanova University, a private Roman Catholic institution in Villanova, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1842. It has about 6,700 undergraduate students and more than 3,000 graduate and law students enrolled.
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