Mac Murray College to close after 174 years, financial issues

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JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — A central Illinois college will close its doors after 174 years due to declining enrollment and other financial challenges.

The State Journal-Register reports the chairman of the Mac Murray College board of trustees said Friday the four-year liberal arts college in Jacksonville will close at the end of the spring semester. Charles O’Connell said there was no viable path forward for the college, and cited rising costs and an insufficient endowment as factors.

“The board spent more than a year exploring potential new sources for capital, but we were unable to solve the serious financial difficulties facing us,” O’Connell said. “We deeply regret the decision and are sorry for the disruption and disappointment it will have for everyone in the Mac family.”

Methodist clergy founded the college as the Illinois Conference Female Academy in 1846. The name was changed several times, and in 1955 the board of trustees established a college for men. The two colleges merged as MacMurray College in 1969.

The college currently has 527 full-time students and 101 faculty and staff. Students already have moved off campus and are taking classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The college has negotiated transfer agreements for students at other Illinois colleges. The future of the 60-acre Jacksonville campus wasn’t immediately clear.

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