Maryland’s oldest Catholic college preparatory school for girls has announced that it is closing its doors after more than 170 years.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the Institute of Notre Dame, whose graduates have included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, will close June 30.
“We had hoped to have a different outcome and have been trying valiantly the last several years to build a sustainable future,” leaders wrote in an email to the school community.
They cited declining enrollment, financial difficulties and a need to raise millions of dollars, in part to cover at least $5 million in building repairs, as some of the reasons for the closure.
“It has recently become clear that there is no way forward — in spite of the tireless efforts of the Sisters, the Board of Trustees and the school’s leadership team," says Sister Charmaine Krohe, the leader of the School Sisters of Notre Dame of Atlantic-Midwest Province, and Sister Patricia Murphy, the chair of the board of trustees.
As news of the announcement spread, graduates in the city and around the country expressed outrage and sadness.
“When I heard today that the Institute of Notre Dame would be closing its doors permanently a profound sadness came over me," Mikulski said in a statement. “Baltimore is truly losing a treasured institution."
Pelosi tweeted: “Sad news. My mother and I both went to IND. My brother Tommy was a longtime board member. Its creed — Pro Deo et Patria — is enshrined in our hearts.”
The creed means “for God and country.”
The decision to close was made, according to Krohe and Murphy, because the school’s financial situation worsened. Enrollment had declined by 43% in five years, and major contributors were indicating that they would not continue to give money. With 90% of the student body receiving financial aid and the tuition already discounted by 30%, the school did not have enough revenue.
The facility needed $5 million in immediate repairs and $34 million to make it a state-of-the-art facility.
“And now, COVID-19 has caused significant, added financial hardship,” Krohe and Murphy wrote in the letter to the community.