BELLEVILLE, Ill. – The city of Belleville suffered a big blow Monday. Lindenwood University is ending undergraduate classes at its Belleville campus.
School is out and the end of the spring semester arrives with terrible news in its wake for the city, as the 2019-2020 school year will be the last for Lindenwood-Belleville as a traditional, full-time, 4-year, undergraduate university.
Lindenwood University seemed like the perfect fit for the former Belleville-West High School campus when it acquired the campus in 2003.
The university began operating as a traditional 4-year school in 2009, with day programs, Lindenwood Lynx athletic teams, 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.
The campuses 160 faculty and staff will reportedly either be moved to St. Charles or offered severance.
According to a spokesman, the university has invested $42 million in the Belleville campus over the years, with operating losses between $2.5 million and $3 million every year. The campus faces $16.5 million in deferred maintenance and $10 million in upgrades needed to turn things around and lure more students. That’s not going to happen.
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert called it a sad day, especially on the heels of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital moving to O’Fallon, Illinois after 142 years.
“So you feel a little bit of abandonment all of the sudden,” Eckert said.
The mayor met with Lindenwood officials Monday morning but said he first caught wind of the change from news media, which added to his disappointment. He pointed to the recent upheaval in leadership at Lindenwood.
“Needless today, I was shocked … Lindenwood has been a great anchor to the part of Belleville. Our having a university in this city means a lot,” Eckert said. “It’s been great to have these college students in our midst. They’ve been great volunteers. It’s been a wonderful experience and with virtually no communication of any consistency, they’re just taking it away. It’s nothing like the Lindenwood Board of Directors we started out with. We’ll continue to fight and plan and dream but it’s a very disappointing day today.”
There was no plan to sell the Belleville campus, a spokesman said. Night classes for about 550 students at the Belleville and Collinsville locations will be consolidated at the Belleville campus.
More information about the transition will be posted to the University's website: www.lindenwood.edu/consolidation.