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Cabrini News

Community Message from Interim President and Board Chair

Posted on 6/23/2023 8:50:47 PM

Dear Members of the Cabrini Community,

Today we have some difficult news to share. Faced with significant financial challenges, exacerbated by declining enrollment and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Trustees and leadership team, together with the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, have determined that there is no credible path forward that will allow Cabrini University to continue operating beyond June 2024. This upcoming academic year will be the last at Cabrini, after which the university will formally conclude our operations.

Over the years, Cabrini has made significant efforts to boost enrollment and revenue streams through various strategic initiatives including new programs and partnerships, working to attract international students, and developing online options. We also sought to cut expenses to the degree possible, but ultimately none of those strategies were enough to overcome Cabrini’s long-term structural operating deficit. 

As a result, over the past few months at the behest of the board, we have been in detailed discussions with Villanova, a neighboring Catholic university around a plan that would preserve Cabrini’s legacy and mission and honor the original intention for the Cabrini campus to promote opportunities in Catholic education. As we’ve come to know Father Peter Donohue, the President of Villanova, we are increasingly convinced that an agreement between our schools is the best path forward to ensure that our Cabrini University legacy lives on. In our discussions, the senior leadership team of Villanova acknowledges our complementary missions and values and the unique opportunity an agreement between our institutions creates. We are confident that Villanova is committed to preserving the Cabrini legacy and comforted by the fact that our work to educate both minds and hearts will be carried forth by a university with an abiding presence on the Main Line.

Before we share some of the details of our proposed agreement, we’d like to assure you that we will continue the 2023/24 academic year as planned for the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes and seeing our class of 2024 through to graduation with a robust set of course offerings. For 66 years, our students, faculty and staff have left an enduring mark in our community, dedicated to academic excellence, leadership development and a commitment to social justice. We plan this year to actively celebrate this history along with our mission, ministry, and legacy. Please know that our impact does not end when our doors close but lives on both through the legacy that Villanova will carry forward and through your work, your service, and your relationships.

As President Donohue and I said earlier today, we know this announcement raises many questions. Many of those we simply cannot answer at this time as confidential discussions are still underway. While a final agreement must be approved by both boards of trustees and other regulatory agencies, both Villanova and Cabrini have a shared commitment to:

  • Working with every Cabrini rising sophomore, junior, incoming freshman, and graduate student to develop individualized plans to complete their degrees at other institutions starting in fall 2024 with minimal disruption in their course of study or path to graduation. 
  • Providing special notification and communications of employment opportunities at Villanova to Cabrini faculty and staff
  • Maintaining access to career services, continuing education programs, and events for Cabrini alumni
  • Preserving the Cabrini name in association with the current campus
  • Honoring Mother Cabrini by uplifting and advocating for women in leadership
  • Establishing a “Cabrini Scholars” scholarship program rooted in the values of Cabrini and the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • Maintaining and expanding Cabrini’s commitment to immigration and education

Many more details are under consideration, and we will share them with you via in-person meetings, zooms, and email, and all updated information can be found here, as soon as more information becomes available. For now, I’d like you to know that our relationship with Villanova is strong and grounded in mutual respect and our shared commitment to Catholic higher education.

While Cabrini can no longer endure as an independent university, Villanova stands with us, willing to honor Cabrini’s history, tradition, and legacy. Though we know this is not the outcome any of us hoped for, we do believe this agreement with Villanova is the best path forward.



Helen Drinan
President of Cabrini University

Amy Lambert
Chair, Board of Trustees, Cabrini University