Cleveland State University and Notre Dame College have met to discuss the university potentially absorbing the struggling private college.

Meetings between officials from the two schools took place three times last fall, Cleveland State officials told Signal Cleveland. 

The first conversation happened Sept. 7 at Cleveland State. On Oct. 2, Cleveland State officials met at Notre Dame’s South Euclid campus. The parties then met via Zoom Dec. 11.  

Those meetings, Cleveland State officials said, “were opportunities for both administrations to explore the feasibility of CSU potentially absorbing Notre Dame College.”

Notre Dame officials confirmed the talks.

“One of the options we are considering is a partnership with Cleveland State University,” Notre Dame officials said in an email to Signal Cleveland. The college said that no decision has been made yet. 

What comes next

Small private colleges such as Notre Dame have struggled with enrollment and financial problems, especially since the pandemic.  

It remains unclear what “absorbing” could look like for either institution or how long the process could take. Several Notre Dame faculty and staff members, who did not want to be publicly identified, told Signal Cleveland that they’ve have been informed a decision will be coming on or by Feb. 15.

Notre Dame’s former president, J. Michael Pressimone, resigned last fall. John Smetanka is serving in the role on an interim basis, with John Galovic working as a presidential liaison to provide more support. The group of Catholic sisters that founded the college in 1922 cut ties over the summer. 

Comparing colleges

Notre Dame is far smaller than Cleveland State. It enrolls about 1,050 full-time students and has an endowment of about $9.6 million, according to 2023 data compiled by Crain’s Cleveland Business. 

The college describes its 50-acre campus, about 25 minutes east of Cleveland, as picturesque.

Cleveland State’s current physical footprint is confined to the city’s downtown. About 14,200 students were enrolled there last fall, a roughly 13% drop from five years ago.

Higher education reporter for Signal Cleveland in partnership with Open Campus.