Neumann University in Pennsylvania has doubled the size of its campus by signing an agreement to purchase an adjacent convent and a 63-acre property of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, a congregation of Catholic women.
The university plans to utilize some areas of the convent for on-campus housing. It revealed that there are still students on the dorm waiting list, and the school has been renting nearby apartments and hotel spaces to meet housing demand. Neumann said the new facility will help address these issues post-pandemic.
Neumann has 600 students who have chosen on-campus housing. The school plans to transfer 60 of them to the newly acquired convent next year since it currently puts as many as three students in one room.
“It gives us the capacity to take all of our residential facilities back onto the campus and allows us to create the opportunity for anyone who wants to live here,” Neumann President Chris Domes said in a news release.
Within the next 15 years, the Catholic school plans to convert the other parts of the convent into a student center, ice rink, track and field, and main administrative hub.
During its signing of the purchase agreement, Neumann also announced the purchase of St. Elizabeth House, a two-story residential facility and office building, and two additional residential homes.
Acquisition of these properties is part of a 15-year campus transformation effort, the highlights of which will be a welcome entryway and a lively pedestrian-only zone in the heart of campus. The university will also construct a new events center.
“This acquisition works on so many levels,” Domes said. “It positions us to strengthen the residential experience for our students and supports our desire for expanded extracurricular programs and athletics.”
Carrying Legacy Forward
Outgoing Congregational Minister for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Sr. Kathy Dougherty, said that the sale of several historic properties and contiguous land is a “bittersweet” moment for the congregation.
However, she pointed out that letting go of some properties would allow the congregation to focus on its mission and ministries. “Frankly, we’ve reached a point at which we no longer needed or could justify owning these facilities and this land,” she explained.
Dougherty also mentioned that her fellow sisters did not join the congregation just because it has historic buildings or a parcel of land. She said they wish to ensure the sustainability of their mission to serve, established over the years.
The outgoing minister believes that Neumann “is the perfect fit to carry our legacy forward” and that she and her fellow sisters are thrilled about how the university will use the properties to benefit more people.