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Marylhurst University to close as enrollment drops by 50 percent

Marylhurst University, a small private Catholic school near Lake Oswego, is closing its doors after 125 years.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Marylhurst University is closing its doors after 125 years of operation.

The small Catholic university in unincorporated Clackamas County, near Lake Oswego, said declining enrollment led to the board’s decision to shutter.

“While this decision is sad and difficult for everyone involved, we feel it’s the best decision for students, faculty, staff and our entire community,” said Chip Terhune, chair-elect of the Marylhurst University Board of Trustees.

Marylhurst announced the closure on Thursday. The school said it will work with current students to either graduate by the end of the summer term or transfer to another institution.

Eighty-one students could complete their degrees by the summer, the university said in a press release. Another 324 students will remain and need to transfer elsewhere.

“As our students and faculty process this news, we remain committed to providing support to help them move forward with pursuing their educational and career goals. Our goal is to assist our entire community in finding a safe landing in whatever their educational or professional future holds,” said Marylhurst University President Melody Rose.

Marylhurst saw a significant drop in enrollment following the Great Recession, a hurdle the school said many other small private colleges are grappling with. The school’s enrollment dropped by almost 50 percent in four years, from 1,409 in the fall of 2013-14 to 743 in 2017-18. Those numbers were expected to drop even more next year.

The school said it has not had issues with accreditation, recalled loans or negative audits.

Tuition and fees at Marylhurst were about $20,800 for the 2016-17 school year, according to the U.S. News and World Report. Seventy-one percent of the student body was female and the acceptance rate was 100 percent.

The prime real estate where the school is located will be returned to its last owners, the Sisters of the Holy Names. They will use the property “in alignment with their mission and values,” the school said.

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