Wheeling Jesuit will end its Jesuit affiliation at school year’s end

WHEELING, W.Va. — After numerous cuts were announced in March by Wheeling Jesuit University, the Maryland Province for the Society of Jesus said Wednesday that the Jesuit affiliation at the institution will end at the end of the current academic year.

The organization made the announcement in a press release on its website, including:

“Continued financial challenges at the University recently led the Board of Trustees to declare financial exigency. In response to that declaration, University leadership developed a reorganization plan that includes eliminating numerous academic programs, as well as faculty and staff positions. With nearly all Jesuit positions eliminated, and without sufficient lay Ignatian leadership and programming to support the Jesuit identity of the University, the Jesuit affiliation of the University will not be able to continue.”

Officials from the Maryland Province for the Society of Jesus could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Wheeling Jesuit University released a statement on Wednesday, weeks after the institution announced cutting all but a handful of programs and nearly half of its full-time faculty including Jesuits.

“With the aim of realigning its academic programs to better equip students for the 21st Century economy, while refocusing to emphasize core academic programs in health sciences, business administration and education, the Board of Directors and the Maryland Province for the Society of Jesus have determined that Wheeling Jesuit University will end its Jesuit affiliation at the end of the current academic year.

“The decision in no way impacts the academic credentials of past, present or future students, or changes its distinctive Roman Catholic identity. The decision follows recent announcements that the current academic profile of the University and related cost structure are no longer sustainable given declining student interest in other disciplines and the resulting inability to maintain majors in Theology and Philosophy. As a result, the Jesuit sponsorship of Wheeling Jesuit is ending and a new relationship between the Jesuits and the University to ensure an ongoing Jesuit presence and influence is being finalized. Details will be communicated in due course.”

Wheeling Jesuit University President Michael P. Mihalyo Jr. said, “As the university confronts challenging circumstances, our commitment to living our mission by serving our students remains steadfast. While an end to Jesuit sponsorship is difficult for all, refocusing our academic program on those areas that reflect the intersection of the faculty’s expertise, student and workforce demand, and financial sustainability is the best path forward for the university and our students. We are grateful that we will be able to maintain a Jesuit presence and influence and continue our rich Catholic tradition.”

The university said in the release that the re-branded school, with a new name yet to be determined, will continue to offer Mass and Catholic campus ministry while the Ignatian ideals of service and Catholic teachings on social justice will also continue.

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