BELLEVILLE, Ill. – ‘Save our school.’ That is the message from dozens of former and current Lindenwood University students after the university announced last week that it is shuttering most of its undergraduate program at its Belleville campus.
The 2019-2020 school year will be the last for the campus as a traditional, full-time, 4-year, undergraduate university.
The university cites “ongoing financial and enrollment challenges.”
The university began operating as a traditional 4-year school in 2009, with day programs, Lindenwood Lynx athletic teams, and even a residence hall. All will be consolidated at the university’s main campus in St. Charles, with close to 1,100 full-time daytime undergrad students in Belleville able to continue their education and scholarships in St. Charles.
“I’m not a hundred percent sure with what’s going to happen with the professors that I had as an undergraduate,” said Dominique Bibbs, who graduated May 11 and was planning to return for a graduate degree at the same campus.
The 160 faculty members and staff will either be moved to St. Charles or offered severance.
“Sadness, everyone is sad,” Bibbs said. “It doesn’t feel the same. Getting that mass email after graduation. I mean you are on cloud nine and then you go, ‘Oh, this is over?’ I mean, we can’t even come back for homecoming.”
Bibbs’ former classmate, Michaela Henderson, said that she is sad because it’s not just about what she has learned and gained from being at the campus but also what she, along with many other students, have done for the surrounding community.
“A lot of the effort we have put in is put to waste,” said Henderson, who graduated in May 2018. “We did a lot to improve the school and to pull students in. I mean, I coached and I pulled a lot of girls to play sports here and I feel like I have let them down.”
Both Bibbs and Henderson said they are joining hundreds of other former and current students to sign an online petition to bring back the undergraduate program.
“Hopefully, it gets attention and spreads an awareness so that people can see what’s actually happening,” Henderson said.
Both women said the petition needs 1,000 signatures before it can be presented to the board of trustees. More than 700 people have signed the petition as of Monday night.
“Hopefully, it brings awareness that this campus matters,” said Bibbs. “We need this campus in this community.”
A university spokesperson told FOX 2 that the campus was not aware of the student launched petition.