Cabrini University closing; Villanova to acquire land

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Saturday, June 24, 2023
Cabrini University merging with Villanova after next school year
Cabrini will stop operating after next school year, at which point Villanova will assume ownership of the nearby campus.

RADNOR, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Cabrini University announced Friday that it will be closing at the end of the 2023-24 school year.

Villanova University will assume ownership of the land on which Cabrini University is located-- just about 2.5 miles away from the Villanova campus.

"Today, I have some very difficult news to share," said Cabrini University Interim President Helen Drinan in a video statement. "The Board of Trustees, the Cabrini leadership team and the missionary sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have determined that Cabrini University will graduate its final class in 2024."

Drinan, who joined the university just over a year ago, also spoke in the video message of her intent to be transparent from the moment she assumed her role with Cabrini University. Both she and Villanova President Rev. Peter M. Donohue spoke in videos released in a joint statement by the universities on Friday afternoon.

"Fortunately, we have arrived at an agreement with Villanova University to preserve the Cabrini legacy and mission and promote opportunities for Catholic education," said Drinan.

"Villanova and Cabrini leadership have been working on a plan to preserve Cabrini legacy both in name and in continuation of some of its most impactful work in education," said Donohue.

Cabrini had been struggling financially and has faced a dwindling student enrollment. From the time this year's graduating seniors enrolled to enrollment of the current freshman, student class size shrank by about 23%.

What will be Cabrini's last class -- the class of 2024 -- has 389 students. The rising junior class of 2025 has 306 students. The rising sophomore class of 2026 has just 284 students.

Both universities pledge to take care of those students with counseling and resources.

"We will also assist each of our amazing students individually to find the path to complete their educations," said Drinan.

Villanova is offering a free, expedited review for Cabrini students interested in transferring to Villanova.

Rosemont College, which is only 10 minutes away from Cabrini, is also offering what it says is a "seamless transfer pathway" for Cabrini students interested in transferring to Rosemont College.

"I want to let you know that you have a home at Rosemont," said President Jim Cawley to students via a statement. "Rosemont's mission is closely aligned with Cabrini's values, and we invite Cabrini students to join our community."

Cabrini and Villanova officials also say they will assist faculty and staff in finding new jobs.

"We are helping to ensure that Cabrini students, staff and alumni are well-supported during this difficult time," said Donohue.

There's been no official word on how the Cabrini campus will be used by Villanova once it closes at the end of next school year. Both schools have emphasized that some form of the Cabrini name will remain along with the school's enduring legacy of service.

"Our circumstances will change but our values remain the same," said Drinan, who added that the final academic year will include celebrations of Cabrini's legacy.

Talks between Villanova and Cabrini are ongoing, and the deal has not been finalized. No dollar amount has been released, either.