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Holy Cross College has reached an agreement to sell 75 acres of land to the nearby University of Notre Dame in a leaseback deal designed to shore up Holy Cross and its struggling finances.
The college announced the deal late Friday, about a week after a Holy Cross administrator accidentally sent an email to the student body speculating about potentially having to close down the college next year. Some prospective students voiced concerns, but college leaders responded by saying they were confident the college would remain open in the near future and that they were formulating new financial plans.
The land sale is part of long-term financial sustainability planning intended to respond to financial concerns raised by the Higher Learning Commission. The accreditor called for college leaders to submit a four-year financial plan next month, amid worries about its reliance on debt and use of restricted gifts to balance budgets.
The college's Board of Trustees says it recognized the issues during planning last year.
“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,” Dave Bender, chair of the Holy Cross College Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “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.”
Holy Cross College approached the University of Notre Dame with the land sale proposal. The college did not share financial details of the deal, saying only that it will cut its debt and provide capital for operating needs. The 75 acres of land are owned by Holy Cross College and the Brothers of Holy Cross Midwest Province.
Holy Cross College lists its total campus size as 150 acres in Notre Dame, Ind.