Northland College trustees declare financial exigency

Not closing yet: Northland College declares financial exigency

Northland College's Board of Trustees voted Thursday to declare financial exigency, putting off the decision on whether to close for good.

The Northland College Board of Trustees declared a financial exigency in a vote Thursday.

This sets off a process designed to provide a “final, good faith effort” to save Northland College.

Associate Professor Angela Stround is part of a team working to envision what Northland College could look like in the future. The team met with the Board of Trustees on Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s decision.

“It turned out to be a really good meeting, and I feel like something happened in that meeting where the vision of what we call True Northland, what we want to transform into, they really started to understand the merits of it and the the opportunities of it and the fact that it could put us on really solid financial footing,” said Stround. “So I left that meeting, knowing today’s decision would be announced, not that I had any idea what was going to happen, but I knew that we had put everything out there and that we had developed something very, very, very compelling that I that is absolutely the key to financial resilience for the college.”

The decision comes after a March 11 fundraising appeal to raise $12 million by April 3 to avoid closure and instead continue programs and operations beyond this academic year.

Related Story: Northland College receives generous donations to keep it open and Fundraising efforts are trying to save Northland College

The appeal raised nearly $1.5 million from over 900 donations when it ended at midnight on April 3—a record for the College.

“The Board has been inspired by the extraordinary effort and generosity over the past few weeks,” said Ted Bristol, chair of the Northland College Board of Trustees. “As we’ve said from the start, our shared goal is to continue Northland’s mission and we are committed to ensuring we’ve explored all options to do so. The Board remains open and hopeful. However, I also want to caution that Northland’s circumstances remain incredibly serious, and significant progress will be needed in the next two weeks to avoid closure.”

The Financial exigency is a formal recognition by the Board that the College is facing a serious financial crisis that requires immediate attention.

The Board has set a timeline for this process to be implemented and will meet to make a final decision about the College’s future in two weeks.

“We knew that we weren’t anywhere close to the $12 million goal. We knew that, and so we knew that this meeting wasn’t going to be the best outcome,” said current Northland College Senior Fletcher Thomas. “But it also wasn’t the worst, and so there’s kind of a silver lining with that. But it’s still an incredibly typical time for the community. To hear that this turmoil is going to last another two weeks is incredibly challenging for a lot of us, but I think there’s still a lot of hope for the future of the college.”

The College intends to continue this academic year as planned with no immediate changes to programs or services.

“While I expect this will be welcome news to many of our campus community, I want to acknowledge this extends the uncertainty for students and others who are waiting for a firm decision in order to plan their future which is why our original deadline was April 3,” added Dayton. “We will continue to provide support to help them and understand that this extended timeline may mean current and prospective students – as well as faculty and staff – need to make individual decisions sooner.”

The Board of Trustees will be following up with various faculty, campus, and community groups in the coming days to refine a new structure, explore budget options and adjustments, and determine additional funding possibilities.

“I think this is the sign that we’ve been waiting for that the board of trustees is taking this seriously. You know, the past few weeks, we’ve just gotten so little information, so little communication,” said alum Kaelin Hall. “So I’m hopeful at least that this is a sign that they’re being really serious about exploring all of Northland’s options and really fighting for a way to keep Northland open.” 

Video from Thursday’s announcement can be found on Save Northland’s Youtube page at this link.