RENSSELAER – You don’t have to scan deep in the social media communities left to bind Saint Joseph’s College alumni to find lingering anger over how their alma mater was closed. Serious doubts litter the Facebook feeds about whether the school can ever bounce back from a $27 million debt and a liquidation of desks and campus equipment that looked as bad as any going-out-of-business sale.
“Yes, I see that, too,” said Ned Tonner, who two weeks ago was named one of three lay members of the board of trustees for the Catholic liberal arts college in Rensselaer, 40 miles north of Lafayette.
But Tonner, who has had a law office in his hometown of Rensselaer since 1994, said there’s every reason to believe St. Joe’s will be back – at least in some form – and can win back the trust of alumni still seething over the way the college with 904 students and 200 faculty and staff was dismantled.
“I think it will be a step-by-step process,” said Tonner, who also spent time as an adjunct professor in St. Joe’s MBA program. “It will take some time. But I believe we will be reborn, and we will be stronger.”
He’s not alone in that sort of bullish view on St. Joe’s as new trustees settle in to the huge job of trying to bring a 127-year-old college back from the dead.
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