Print Issue: January 2, 2003
Southern Catholic College Delays Fall Opening
By Rebecca Rakoczy, Staff Writer
DAWSONVILLE - Southern Catholic College has delayed its planned fall 2003 opening. Tom Clements, Southern Catholic chairman of the board of trustees, cited the current economic downturn and the need to get more financially stable before opening. All construction on the facility has been stopped.
So far the school has raised almost $12 million in donations or pledges, Clements said. "We recognize the economic climate is in a downturn and we continue to need gifts to sustain us," he said. "Our goal was to raise $10 million by June 30 and we did that, but things have changed in the economy and our bank views things differently since Sept. 11 . . ." The college is receiving financing through Dawsonville's Chestatee Bank.
"Now it's going to be a function of when we reconvene construction when we have bank financing for the rest of the project," he said.
He called the board of trustees decision not to open this fall "very emotional," but said the board was "whole-heartedly committed to the misson of Southern Catholic College" and that "this decision is necessary to insure the long-term viability of the college."
Clements said the school's goal now is to receive $20 million in donations and pledges, and the projected opening would be fall 2004. "We wanted to raise another $10 million, and by this summer hoped to reach $20 million, and I don't think we are going to reach that."
"Even if we had enough money to go forward, we still need money for the future," he said. Clements added they "didn't want to put the first students at risk. If we are going to open the school, we want to make sure these kids graduate."
Another decision in the postponement was in regards to the student life programs, he said. "The senior management team and curriculum is set, but there are many programs (regarding student clubs, sports, and different services) that are not crystal clear. We didn't want to over-promise things to parents and students and wanted to make sure these programs were established."
Clements added that the school had received about 30 completed applications for fall enrollment and over 200 faculty applications for positions." The college's construction contract allows us to stop a year for convenience," he said.
He added that "we feel very comfortable that 2004 is going to be a very doable, reachable objective."