Land, buildings from shuttered college campus to be auctioned

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JACKSONVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — After a permanent closing earlier this year, MacMurray College officials are readying a property auction next week that’s aimed at covering some of the troubled institution’s debt.

The auction slated for November 12 is the second auction the college has had since announcing in March that insufficient funding, declining enrollment and rising costs prompted its board of trustees to vote on closing the school for good in May.

Items like furniture and other memorabilia were auctioned off earlier this fall; now up for bid are 18 land tracts and buildings on the 60-acre campus. Available for viewing online already, the outdoor auction starts at 10 a.m. that Thursday morning.

The tracts were “organized based on potential reuse for educational purposes or other uses by community groups,” according to a press release from the college.

And while officials acknowledged the onset of the coronavirus pandemic didn’t help matters for the 174-year-old college, they emphasized the decision to close was in the making long before 2020.

In 2015, former president Colleen Hester and the board of trustees retired certain, traditional liberal arts majors in an effort to draw more students in for “market-aligned majors.”

By 2018, the Higher Learning Commission decided to take MacMurray off academic probation noting the college’s “success in building enrollments and significantly increasing fundraising.”

But after continued crunching of the numbers, the school’s board of trustees decided that MacMurray “had no viable financial path forward.” Officials had created a plan to change the college’s business model by adding more professional degree programs and drawing in more “nontraditional” students, but weren’t able to raise enough money to implement the changes.

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