On June 23, Cabrini University announced, through an institution-wide email, that they will cease operations at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. The campus, situated in Radnor Township, will be purchased by Villanova University.
The school, founded in 1957, has a long history with Haverford; alumni have attended the school and mathematics teacher Mr. Andrew Franz P’23 is a graduate of the institution. However, long-term financial struggles and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the school operating at a loss for years.
Cabrini University publicly announced in early 2022 that they were searching for a partnership with another university. Enrollment had dwindled from 2,300 students in 2016 to about 1,500 in 2022.
In response to enrollment and financial struggles, the university implemented massive budget cuts, reducing department chairs from eighteen to eight and cutting 46 positions from mainly administrative roles. These cuts saved about $1 million, but it could not cover the $5-6 million deficit on their $45 million budget.
As for the 1,500 students currently on campus, their future education is not certain. Villanova University has not offered to accept all Cabrini students—they will have to apply for the fall transfer season. However, Ursinus, Holy Family, Eastern, Gwynedd Mercy, and Rosemont Colleges are offering a “seamless transition” for Cabrini students to enter their schools.
Cabrini University is not the first college in the Philadelphia area to close or merge in recent years. This September marks the first academic year for the merger between University of the Sciences and St. Joseph’s University. Salus University was acquired by Drexel University, and will officially merge next academic year. Unlike Cabrini’s situation, Villanova did a real estate deal: St. Joseph’s and Drexel agreed to a partnership and absorbed current students.
The closures and mergers of small colleges in the Philadelphia area are representative of national trends of existential financial struggles among small institutions of higher education. Coinciding with this is increasing tuition prices and cost per student to operate an institution due to the absence of economies of scale.