Since this summer, the Cabrini community has been patiently waiting for an update on the conversations between Villanova and Cabrini. At 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov 2, they got their answer.
An email was sent to students and faculty from President Helen Drinan announcing that the two parties, along with the Missionary Sisters, agreed to terms allowing Villanova to take ownership of Cabrini’s campus once the school closes.
It’s a bittersweet message, as it begins to sink in that beloved Cabrini will soon be no more.
What to know about the agreement
Along with the email sent directly to students, a joint press release was published to a purpose-built website, cabriniuniversitylegacy.com. The release stated that the institutions had been working on the details of this deal since they agreed in principle back in June.
The final agreement states that Villanova will keep Cabrini’s name for the campus to “preserve its overarching legacy and mission.” They plan to do this through a variety of initiatives including the creation of an institute or center on immigration, incorporating the work of the Wolfington Center into existing Villanova programs, and establishing a “Cabrini Scholars” scholarship program with Cabrini High School in New Orleans, La.
Villanova would also work to “commemorate, celebrate, and document the history and artifacts associated with Mother Cabrini and the Cabrini campus.” These artifacts include, but are not limited to, the items housed in the Holy Spirit Library’s Cabriniana Collection.
An interesting note from the release is that there will be two designated representatives from Cabrini serving on the Villanova Board of Trustees for up to two successive five year terms. At least one of these representatives must be from the Missionary Sisters.
Drinan scheduled an interview with the Loquitur but canceled that day citing a scheduling conflict. In an emailed statement, she wrote, “We were all very relieved to finalize the important details so that we could release the announcement of the Definitive Agreement. The community has been very patient, and we all wanted everyone to be reassured that we are moving ahead with Villanova.”
With the agreement finalized, Drinan concluded her November 2 email to the community noting that the school is focused on fulfilling its commitment to students during this final year and celebrating the institution’s six decades of history.
Reactions from around the community
It’s not easy to see in writing the harsh reality that your school is closing. The announcement came with a whirlwind of emotion from students, faculty, and alumni.
“It was pretty surreal,” said Na’im Roberts, senior health science major. “It’s finally starting to sink in that we’re officially done soon.”
Members of the “Cabrini College Alumni & Friends” Facebook group used the platform to share their own reactions, usually leading to more questions than answers.
Some of the biggest areas of concern seem to be with the specifics of preserving Cabrini’s academic and athletic history. There is nothing confirmed regarding the future of Woodcrest Mansion, Bruckmann Memorial Chapel of Saint Joseph, student work, trophies, scholarships etc.
One member of the group who is a graduate of Cabrini’s art program said “I always wondered where the framed student art that hung around the college campus went after more pieces came to replace them… Did they get donated somewhere else, sit in storage, get trashed?”
There is also curiosity over how future alumni events will work, with some noting that the release doesn’t contain the word alumni.
Another member of the group posted, “will there be any town-hall type meetings in the future [where] anything Cabrini will be discussed with real dialog, questions, and transparency by those who were at the table representing Cabrini?”
While it didn’t answer all questions, the announcement offered information that was up in the air while negotiations were happened behind the scenes. Regardless, the community seemed to be pleased to finally get something solid.
“I think it might have been a little late [to receive the news] since we’re almost done with the first semester,” said Roberts. “All the emails and messaging that were sent out about the situation are all trying to inform not only us, but the entire community of what is going on with us in our last year.”
Drinan maintained that with all of the questions still in the air, the school will continue to communicate any finalized decisions as they are made. The final agreement marks a point of transition and unfortunately the beginning of the end.
But if there’s one thing Cabrini wants to be known for, it’s going out in style.