Notre Dame College, Cleveland
Credit: Josephgg216 | Wikipedia
The Notre Dame Administration Building was built in 1926. It was last renovated in 2011 along with several other buildings on the campus.

CSU, Notre Dame offer no update on possible partnership

Notre Dame was told to expect an update by Feb. 15. But a staff member there said the sense there was that the deal was unlikely to go through, despite the potential upside for the small but struggling Catholic college.

Cleveland State University and Notre Dame College have yet to confirm whether a strategic partnership is going ahead. NDC faculty and staff in January told Signal Cleveland that they had been told to expect a decision by Feb. 15 "about whether the college would remain open, merge or close."

CSU's President Dr. Laura Bloomberg confirmed to the CSU faculty at its senate meeting on Jan. 31 that officials from the two financially strapped schools had met three times, on Sept 7, Oct. 2, and Oct. 11

“It is not a well-kept secret that Notre Dame College, like so many other small private institutions, sadly, are really struggling,” Bloomberg told the senate. 

Enrollment Rates

Notre Dame, in South Euclid, Cleveland, recently celebrated its centennial. In 2020, the college had just under 1,050 full-time students. In the fall of 2022, the enrollment rate for undergraduates was 1,736. Meanwhile, CSU's enrollment has dropped 13% in the last five years. 

How the mooted partnership might affect both colleges' enrollment rates and finances is unclear. But Bloomberg said both colleges are working with Ernst Young-Parthenon, a strategy consulting firm, to figure out a possible revenue-sharing model that could help mitigate accumulated debt, in part from loss of students.

What's in it for Notre Dame? 

“We are asking the same question,” a staff member at Notre Dame said, when asked the reason for the potential partnership.

“I think it would mean that, you know, Notre Dame College as a college would cease to exist,” the staff member said, if Notre Dame becomes part of CSU as it currently exists, or becomes a separate regional campus of CSU. 

If the partnership goes ahead, and Notre Dame is absorbed into CSU one way or another, this would be in line with CSU's Master Plan 2022, which, in part, is designed to expand CSU's campus. 

“I think it's a great opportunity for the college (Notre Dame) to keep going,” the NDC staff member said. “It would be nice to see some kind of education still happening on campus, whether under the Notre Dame College or not.” 

Partnering with a 100-year-old college is likely to mean CSU would have to invest in renovations. The most recent renovation to Notre Dame was in 2021, when the school secured a $200,000 embark, enough to restore the Regina Auditorium.  

However, the rest of the college has yet to see any upgrades.

“They would have to do at least some renovations just because at least in the building where I am, a lot of the spaces are not ADA Compliant,” the staff member said, adding that Notre Dame is "very aware" of CSU's own financial and enrollment problems.

“Which is obviously why a lot of people I've talked to about this don't think that's going to happen,” the Notre Dame staff member said.