Representatives with Aquinas College have announced major changes to the school’s degree programs.
Reports stated the college has planned to reconfigure program offerings in a way that focuses on the education of teachers, primarily for Catholic schools.
With this move, the college will no longer offer degrees in arts, sciences, business, or nursing. The college will also no longer have residential housing or student life activities.
The changes have been set to take effect in the fall of 2017 when the college will shift its focus to bachelor and master’s degree programs in the School of Education, as well as in philosophy and theology.
“The approach to teacher education at Aquinas College is based on the conviction that teaching is more than a career choice,” said Sister Mary Sarah, president of Aquinas College. “It is both a gift and a mission.”
Aquinas College was founded as a junior college in 1961 by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, and it didn’t become a four-year college until 1994.
“Reconfiguration of Aquinas College was our most financially responsible alternative,” said Sister Anne Catherine Burleigh, spokesperson for the Dominican congregation. “We have concluded that there is no viable, long-term solution that would adequately support a four-year traditional college with residential and student life without placing both the college and the congregation at serious financial risk.”
However, making this change meant around 60 faculty and staff members will lose their jobs. College representatives also said approximately 140 students will have to complete their degree programs at another college or university.
“Obviously this decision has been extremely painful,” said Sister Mary Sarah. “We are deeply aware of the profound impact such a change will have on the faculty, staff, and students at Aquinas, people whom we know and love. One of our greatest concerns is for them, and we are committed to do all that we can so that they will experience as little disruption in their lives as possible.”
Reports stated the employees who will be let go will get a severance package, as well as assistance with finding a new job.
“Over the years, Aquinas has educated thousands of teachers, nurses, and health care professionals, as well as those in business and law enforcement. These individuals now serve the Nashville community and beyond,” said Sister Anne Catherine. “We thank God for our students, faculty and staff, and for their dedication to Aquinas College. We look forward to its future, grateful to the City of Nashville and the wider Catholic community whose friendship and loyal support continue to be a source of strength for its life and mission.”