Changes that have affected divinity schools throughout the country have had an impact on Colgate Rochester Crozer, and next spring, the historic institution will leave its expansive campus across from Highland Park. It's moving northward on Goodman Street to a much more urban setting: the sprawling Village Gate complex.
CRCDS now has only 100 students and seven faculty members, clearly too few to justify the current five-building complex. But it isn't just the school's enrollment that has changed, Vice President Thomas McDade Clay says. The students themselves have changed, and so have their needs.
The main part of the complex was built in 1928, heavily funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Its students were men in their 20's – "unmarried, didn't drive, lived on campus, ate there, slept there," says McDade Clay. "That's who it was built for."
Students now are older, often have families, don't live on campus, take fewer classes at one time, and may take classes online. The change has left the school with too many buildings and an enormous piece of property. It has rented space to outside organizations like the Cancer Society, which has provided some revenue and kept buildings like a former dormitory in use. But operating expenses are "considerable," McDade Clay says, and trustees and administrators have had to choose between putting resources into buildings and putting them into students' education.
Officials of the school have wrestled with the question of its future for two decades, he says.
Developer Angelo Ingrassia, who is involved in the redevelopment of the former Medley Center, plans to buy the CRCDS complex. He hasn't closed on the purchase, but McDade Clay says he anticipates that will happen this fall.