- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

OAKDALE, N.Y. (AP) - A struggling liberal arts college on Long Island has rescinded its decision to close for now, while it continues negotiations with a London-based academic investment firm in a bid to survive, its president said Thursday.

Dowling College President Albert Inserra said he is hopeful that trustees can reach a financial arrangement with Global University Systems. He did not discuss specific details of the talks, other than to say they were “sensitive, ongoing and confidential.”

He noted that Dowling is one of many small liberal arts colleges in the country fighting to survive. Enrollment has plummeted 62 percent since 2005. Tuition has nearly doubled, but it hasn’t stabilized the college’s finances.

A New York Board of Regents official has said Dowling is about $54 million in debt.

“Everybody is trying to do the right thing,” Inserra told reporters at the nearly desolate campus, where school is out for the summer. “This is a complicated deal that requires very sophisticated analysis.”

Last week, college administrators announced that negotiations aimed at finding an academic partner had failed, and the college was slated to close by last Friday. But Inserra said he and others have reopened talks with Global University Systems, and a decision was made Wednesday to rescind plans to shut down.

The school had 1,652 undergraduate students registered this past year and expected about 1,000 students to return for the fall session before it announced plans to close. Since the announcement, hundreds of students visited the campus to obtain transcripts and begin making arrangements to transfer.

There was no immediate response Thursday from an email inquiry to Global University Systems for comment.

Founded in 1968 by the philanthropist Robert Dowling, the college had two campuses on eastern Long Island. Its main home was in Oakdale on property once owned by the Vanderbilt family. It had schools of arts and sciences, aviation, education and business.

Dowling is not alone among small private colleges struggling with financial trouble. Last month, Burlington College in Vermont, formerly led by the wife of Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, said it will close after taking on heavy debt.

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