Rachel Kasuboski knew all about the scandal that toppled Hillsdale College’s former president when she applied for admission to the private liberal arts school.
But Miss Kasuboski, 18, of Farmington Hills, Mich., still decided to attend the conservative college in the fall because of its strong science programs and small class sizes.
“We followed the whole thing, and it did not change our mind,” Miss Kasuboski’s mother, Jackie, said of accusations that former college President George Roche III had a 19-year affair with his daughter-in-law, Lissa Roche.
“I separate him from the school,” she said. “But I guess I would like to know. He was a public figure, and if he did what they said he did, it’s terrible.”
Mr. Roche, 64, retired in November after 28 years as college president amid rumors that shocked students, faculty and prominent national conservatives who have supported the school for years. Lissa Roche, 41, committed suicide Oct. 17, a few hours after publicly confronting the college president about the affair.
The scandal has not only tarnished the school’s national reputation, it is being blamed for a drop of as much as 18 percent in applications for fall enrollment.
Officials dismiss the decline, pointing instead to a 10 percent increase in students actually enrolled for the fall. They have declined to elaborate.
The school has 1,137 students.
The college receives about 1,000 applications in a typical year for an anticipated fall enrollment of about 340 students. Students pay about $19,090 in tuition a year.
“Our applications are down slightly but we have leveled off,” said Jeffrey Lantis, director of admissions. “We have taken a bit of a shot, but it’s not totally unexpected. We have a few less applications but more committed students.”
School officials said private donations have not been affected by Mr. Roche’s departure. But they declined to say the amount of those donations.
The college responded to the controversy with a series of full-page newspaper advertisements that began running in Midwestern newspapers in December. About 70 percent of the school’s students are from the Midwest.
“You look for a way to bring closure to everyone,” said Robert Blackstock, provost and interim president. “The things that might have brought closure that we would have wanted to say, we didn’t, because we still don’t know.”
Distributed by Scripps Howard