Northland College postpones closure decision after receiving several ‘transformative’ gifts

A screenshot of a college's website
Northland College, in Ashland, Wis. — as seen in this screenshot from the school's website — says it is now "hopeful" about its future after receiving several large last-minute gifts.
Northland College

Northland College, a small, liberal arts school with an environmental focus in Ashland, Wis., has postponed a decision to possibly close after receiving several last-minute large donations.

Last month, Northland’s Board of Trustees announced the institution might have to close at the end of the school year if it didn’t raise $12 million by early April.

Now the Board says it has received several “transformative donor gifts” that have changed the scope of the school’s situation.

The Board says the school remains short of its funding needs, but is now “hopeful about the future.”

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In the roughly three weeks after the school launched its last-ditch fundraising effort, Northland raised nearly $1.5 million from over 900 donations — a record for the college.

That prompted a vote by the Board of Trustees on April 4 to declare “financial exigency,” which kicked off what the Board described as a “final, good faith effort” to save the school.

Since then leadership has held meetings with faculty and others to explore restructuring, likely layoffs, and other changes to try to bridge the college’s deficit, in the face of what the Board has described as a “severe financial crisis.”

Trustees say they plan to continue to meet with faculty and others to continue work to try to develop a sustainable, long-term plan for the school, which was founded in 1892 and enrolls around 500 students.

“This will continue to require a strategic academic re-prioritization and the need for serious decisions,” the Board said in its latest announcement.

The Board of Trustees says it plans to have a decision by the end of next week.