At a time when higher education institutes are scrambling for tuition dollars, St. Joseph’s College (SCJ), a four-year liberal arts Catholic college in Rensselaer, IN., announced on its website Feb. 3 that it will suspend operations at the end of the spring 2017 semester.
St. Joseph’s opened its doors in August 1891; the 180-acre campus is 85 miles southeast of Chicago. After making the announcement, SJC officials provided students with a list of “Teach-Out” schools, which are universities that students can transfer to while preserving credits earned at St. Joseph’s College. The college has partnered with a number of universities, including schools such as Purdue University and the University of Valparaiso, to provide a smoother transition for its approximately 900 enrolled students who are hoping to continue their education. Although not on the list, Wittenberg is offering its support to potential transfer students.
“We are reaching out… St. Joseph’s has a lot of similarities with Witt,” Rachael Yake, admissions counselor, said.
Both schools share a number of similarities. SJC offers 26 undergraduate degree programs, and 22 may also be found at Witt. It has 37 listed student organizations, which are comparable to 24 clubs on Wittenberg’s campus. In terms of athletics, SJC is a member of the NCAA Division II; Wittenberg is a member of Division III. However, Wittenberg offers more university and club sports.
Another similarity: SJC utilizes the same dining services company that Wittenberg employed during the 2015-2016 academic year. So Wittenberg offers a compatible program for potential transfer students in this area too.
One area of marked difference between Witt and St. Joseph’s is in the fulfillment of general education requirements. Wittenberg students may choose from many classes in various departments. The St. Joseph’s requirement is 10 courses spread over four years of enrollment, but SJC uses a self-developed Core Program, where a typical general education class is an integrated blend of several departments.
For example, “Core II: The Modern World” has at least two lectures per week by professors from different disciplines. Students break into assigned discussion groups after lectures. The lecture subjects range from the evolution of women’s place in society, to the Romanticism movement, to an analysis of Aldous Huxley’s novel “Brave New World.”
This gives students a head start on their majors starting with their first semester on campus while fulfilling general education requirements. At Wittenberg, such offerings would be divided into different classes and probably different departments as well.
“I would be interested to know if they have an equivalent for our writing intensive requirement,” Mike Mattison, director of the Writing Center and professor of English, said.
Wittenberg welcomes transfer students from St. Joseph’s College, indicating in the “Around the Hollow” section of the website that students will be given full consideration for admission, and any institutional grants and scholarships — minus athletic scholarships — will be awarded to those admitted.