- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2016

CLINTON, Iowa (AP) - A nearly 100-year-old university has held its final commencement for graduating students on its campus in eastern Iowa.

The ceremony Saturday in Clinton marked the closure of Ashford University’s only physical campus, the Clinton Herald (https://bit.ly/277kadQ ) reported. Family and friends packed the Durgin Educational Center for the last time to watch about 200 graduates walk across the stage.

“This time next year this campus won’t exist,” Student Government Association member Juan Cabrera Sandoval said as he spoke to the crowd during the ceremony. “We have to go forward, be proud and represent Ashford.”

The institution, formerly known as Mount St. Clare College, opened in 1918 as a junior college for women in Clinton.

“What’s really special is that you’re part of a nearly century-old tradition,” Jane McAuliffe, executive vice president/chief academic officer for Bridgepoint Education, told graduates during her commencement speech.

Her speech focused on how the walls of the university, if they could talk, would recount the sense of community, academic achievement and unique events that have happened over the years.

“What we will take away is much greater, the support for one another much stronger, the friendships will last much longer, graduates you shared with us your years here,” McAuliffe said.

Ashford University’s owner, Bridgepoint Education, announced last summer that the Clinton campus would close at the end of this school year due to declining enrollment.

Other students will be able to continue taking online classes managed from the university’s headquarters in San Diego.

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Information from: Clinton Herald, https://www.clintonherald.com

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