- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

OAKDALE, N.Y. (AP) - A struggling liberal arts college that had a striking waterfront campus but fewer and fewer students is closing its doors.

Dowling College President Albert Inserra said Tuesday the college, on eastern Long Island, will stop operating at the end of the week. He said months of negotiations aimed at finding an academic partner to help keep it afloat had failed.

“As painful as this announcement is we want the student body, faculty and alumni to know that we made every effort to form a suitable academic affiliation so that we could keep the college open,” Inserra said. “This painful decision is a reflection of the unprecedented financial challenges facing countless private educational institutions across the nation and the difficult choices that many must now face.”

Administrators will work to assist students in transferring, he said.

Dowling is the latest in a series of small private colleges that have shut their doors amid financial trouble. This 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.

Dowling College, founded in 1968 by the philanthropist Robert Dowling, had two campuses on eastern Long Island. Its main home was in Oakdale on property once owned by the Vanderbilt family, including a mansion built in 1901 overlooking the Connetquot River.

It had schools of arts and sciences, aviation, education and business.

The college’s problems date back a decade. Enrollment plunged from 6,379 in 2005 to 2,453 by the fall of 2014. The college has had seven presidents during that span. In recent years it has been shedding faculty. Attempts to fix the college’s financial problems by nearly doubling tuition didn’t help.

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

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