Stanford University this week announced plans to buy the Belmont campus from Notre Dame de Namur University, a move that would give Stanford additional space to expand its educational programs and Notre Dame the financial boost to stay afloat.
The two universities have signed an official agreement to work towards such a purchase.
“We are delighted to plan for the future of the Belmont campus in a way that strengthens both universities and our respective ties to the community,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a written statement. “We are fortunate to envision new and innovative academic uses for the site that are rooted in its rich history and embrace the vibrancy of the Bay Area.”
Notre Dame de Namur University – a small private Catholic university established in 1851 – is the third oldest university in California and was the first authorized to grant the baccalaureate to women.
But in the decades since it opened, the NDNU has faced enrollment and financial challenges, forcing officials to drop programs, lay off staff, eliminate athletics, and transfer some students to d ‘other colleges.
As recently as last year, NDNU officials were considering shutting down the school for good. However, in January, the school board decided to keep it open and focus on transforming the school into a primarily graduate and online university, offering master’s programs in education, business. and clinical psychology.
The decision to remain open was based on a “high degree of confidence” that the university would be able to sell the campus to a “compatible organization” and provide the NDNU with the necessary funds to “lead the university to sustainability. Then- NDNU chairman Dan Carey said in a statement at the time.
Current school president Beth Martin said the new deal with Stanford will give the NDNU “the flexibility to grow again in new and exciting ways.”
“We will be able to continue the programs for which we are so well known and add new programs directly targeted to the changing needs of students, including a mix of in-person, hybrid and fully online programs,” Martin said in a statement.
The announcement comes just two weeks after another small Bay Area college – Mills College in East Oakland – struck a similar deal to save itself from financial ruin. The small private liberal arts college signed a merger with Boston-based Northwestern University. The two schools plan to jointly develop the academic programs that will be offered under the aegis of Mills-Northeastern starting in the fall of 2022.
The NDNU campus is located off Ralston Avenue west of El Camino Real on 46.3 acres of precious land in the middle of Silicon Valley. The campus consists of 24 buildings covering an area of 320,000 square feet, including two university buildings, four residences, three apartment buildings, a library, a recreation center, a dining hall and a chapel.
For Stanford, the property’s current use as a school campus and its location on the peninsula near public transportation and Stanford’s existing main and Redwood City campuses were major factors in its pursuit of the purchase of the property.
The acquisition of the NDNU campus will mark Stanford’s second major expansion beyond its main campus in recent years. Its first major expansion came in 2019, when the university opened its 35-acre campus in Redwood City to centralize thousands of university employees whose jobs range from development to finance to information technology. .
Stanford Provost Persis Drell said in a statement that the university has no plans to move existing teaching and research activities away from its main campus, but the new Belmont campus would provide additional space and facilities to “improve these. activities through more regional work “.
“This is a unique opportunity for Stanford to support higher education in the region, to connect with residents of a part of the peninsula where we have historically not had as much of a presence, and to invest in the expanding our academic mission to serve the community, ”Drell said in the statement.
Stanford’s Land, Buildings and Real Estate Department will soon begin a process of planning and designing what the campus will look like once the sale is finalized, although the university expects this process to ” takes several years, “according to a press release. Any improvement to the site proposed by Stanford must also be approved by the Town of Belmont.