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Nyack College Will Leave Rockland Next Fall

Hook Mountain and the Hudson as seen from Nyack College. March 2012. Photo Credit: Karl at

by Dave Zornow
Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary will move their undergraduate and graduate programs in South Nyack and Upper Nyack to its Lower Manhattan campus beginning next fall. The consolidation will impact about 900 students and 130 fulltime staff at the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs in Rockland County.
The Christian school, founded in New York City in 1882, has applied to the State of New York to operate solely from its campus in Lower Manhattan at 2 Washington Street.
An announcement was made on campus at 10a on Wednesday. “Nyack College is undergoing one of the most exciting changes in all of its history,” said Nyack/Alliance Theological Seminary President Mike Scales. “We have applied to the State of New York to offer all programs—academic, co-curricular, athletic—as well as operations—on our Manhattan campus. This move will minimize rising costs and maintain high academic standards for our students.””
The possibility that the school might close has been an open secret among students and elected officials for the past six months. “I’d heard rumors of the closure circulating for awhile but it’s still surprising and sad to see it go,” said Nyack College graduate LeeAnn Mailly. “It makes financial sense to consolidate to the Manhattan campus given the drop in enrollment in recent years at Nyack and other small Christian schools.”
“Like many private schools we have experienced challenges particularly in enrollment,” said Jeff Quinn, Vice President for College Relations. “In looking at serving our students and mission, we began this process of exploring where our future is best positioned. The circumstances may have drove us to ask questions that we would not have asked otherwise. As a Christian school, we see a divine plan in this for us and our students in the future,” he said.
The school plans to continue all of it’s current curriculum and athletic department programs at its downtown NYC location, “The application process with the state of NY covered all of our academic programs,” said Quinn. We don’t have plans to make any changes to current academic programs.” Quinn says the school is working on a deal that would provide residential living space for its 460 resident students in Jersey City close to the PATH train and Nyack College’s Lower Manhattan location.
Nyack College has provided a detailed FAQ page about the transition at for students and their parents covering details regarding living space, parking, tuition, financial aid and taking classes online. It also includes information about the future of the South Nyack campus: “Currently the plan is for the Rockland campus to be sold. The proceeds from this sale will be used to strengthen Nyack in NYC.”

Before Nyack College, the Clarkstown Country Club occupied the 86 acre tract in South Nyack. In a Sept 2013 article about America’s first yogi, Pierre Bernard, Nyack Sketch Log columnist Bill Batson described the Clarkstown Country Club as “a sprawling network of lodges, bungalows, recreation facilities, art studios, classrooms, sports fields and animal enclosures that attracted celebrities and wealthy yoga enthusiasts.” Original Sketch by ©Bill Batson.

The Alliance Theological Seminary is located on 9W in Upper Nyack. The 86 acre parcel where Nyack College is sited was once the home of the Clarkstown Country Club, an ashram where Pierre Bernard, America’s first yogi, lived from 1920 until his death in 1955.
Elected officials and community members have expressed concern about the impact on the adjacent villages and Rockland County. “While the college is located in South Nyack it has been an important part of our community,” said Village of Nyack Mayor Don Hammond. “Students, faculty and staff have frequented our downtown merchants and restaurants and they have employed many members of our community. There have been rumors concerning financial difficulties at the college, but this announcement is troubling and comes as a surprise. We hope to work with local leaders and the college to develop an outcome that will be positive for our community.”
The South Nyack campus sits in a prime location, high on a hill overlooking the Hudson, adjacent to an unimproved state park. “As an alumni, my experience at Nyack was formative and meaningful so it’s unfortunate to learn that the college on the hillside won’t be there anymore,” said Mailly. “As a student athlete, I fondly remember running the hills with my teammates overlooking the Hudson. Now, it’s bittersweet to remember the natural beauty of the campus, the exceptional professors and the thought provoking classes.”
Quinn says the decision to close the South Nyack campus was difficult. “Many of us in this administration are long time employees of the college and long time residents of Rockland. We chose mission over nostalgia. We chose mission over even comfort. We are trying to put every possible resource into our students’ hands and work with them as best as we possibly can,” he said.

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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