Saint Rose president: Closure is ‘painful,’ ‘devastating’

Saint Rose President Marcia White spoke with reporters Friday after confirming what NewsChannel 13 reported on Thursday. The college in Albany’s Pine Hills neighborhood will close in mid-2024 after more than a century.

“To talk about the closure of the College of Saint Rose is so painful and devastating to all of us,” White said.

The decision to close the college was made on Thursday, White said. It was a last resort after many other options were floated and several programs were cut.

“I will share with you that over the last year and a half, maybe two years, we had hired national consultants for financial, legal and enrollment management. They recommended a number of higher education institutions that we should be having communication with to see if we could find a partner to move forward with,” said White. “Unfortunately, there was not a partnership to either merge or affiliate at this point, so we could continue on.”

However, White said there was never a request for a bailout.

“The request was for bridge funding, so that The College of Saint Rose could continue conversations with a partner,” White said.

White said the loss of Saint Rose will mean a loss in educational programs for jobs she said are in “crisis mode” across New York state like nursing, teaching, social work and law enforcement.

“We’re not like any other small private college that provides a service. We’re a private college that provides the public good.”

Among the biggest hurdles the college could just not effectively overcome was COVID, White said.

“What happened during COVID — 1.4 million students left education and they never came back,” said White.

Another one is fewer high school students are deciding to go to college.

White mentioned every college is New York state is having issues right now. However, with just 2,566 current students, Saint Rose had a much smaller endowment than colleges with a larger enrollment.

“Having a very small endowment as we did, we just got to the point where financially, we’re not able to continue,” said White.

The college currently occupies around 80 individual buildings in Albany’s Pine Hills neighborhood. Questions now surround what will happen to all that real estate.

White emphasized the vast real estate is not her biggest concern at the moment.

“It’s never been about the buildings or the property. It’s about the students,” White said.

However, White acknowledged the ripple effect the college’s closure will have on the surrounding area.

“This community isn’t just losing a few students. They’re losing, also the economic support in this neighborhood.”

Instruction at the college will continue through mid-2024, while the college helps its community through the transition. White said.

However, she also acknowledged while college operations will continue for the next several months, the overall tension and uncertainty will be prevalent.

“How can anybody feel like it’s going be normal? They will be concerned. They will be upset,” said White. “The thing that’s different about Saint Rose, they will have our support and we will give them all the information they need. We will be speaking to their parents. We’ll help them find that tradition to go forward.”

Graduation is set for May 11. There will also be a summer session to help students complete their degree by the end of the academic year.

MORE: Saint Rose closure FAQs | President Marcia White’s letter to Saint Rose community