Tulane University announced Wednesday it will close its Gulf Coast campus in Biloxi next year.
The fall courses will start next week but the university said it is suspending admissions for the spring.
“We’re not sure when the doors actually are going to close,” said Patricia Oates, director of the Mississippi Coast Campus. “Could be spring. Could be summer.”
The university said in a press release that classes at its School of Professional Advancement in Biloxi will be offered at least through the spring semester, “and potentially longer, depending on Tulane’s analysis of the needs of its currently enrolled students.”
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Tulane blamed steadily declining enrollment over the last seven years for the closing.
The campus had its highest enrollment in 2011 with 205 students.
Enrollment has dropped significantly since then, the university said. There are now 92 students for fall classes.
Five full-time employees and 25 part-time faculty members also are affected by the closure. Once the closing date is determined, the university said it will help them find new jobs, possibly in other areas with Tulane.
Oates said the priority is to work with all 92 students and find the best plan for them to continue their studies.
No student has yet withdrawn from Tulane after learning of the closing, she said. “If anything, they’ve increased their classes,” she said, “because they want the Tulane degree.”
Among options for the students are transferring their credits and taking courses at Tulane in New Orleans, she said, taking online courses through the university, or switching schools.
Degrees in Homeland Security, Applied Computing and Digital Designs are the most poplar of the eight programs offered in Biloxi, she said.
Across the street at Edgewater Mall, heavy equipment worked Wednesday to transform what was the former Tulane campus into an indoor trampoline park.
In what has proved to be an overly ambitious plan, Tulane’s Gulf Coast campus moved from Edgewater Mall across Eisenhower Drive to an updated, high-tech facility at Edgewater Village in fall 2015.
The 14,961-square-foot building doubled the size of Tulane’s facility so it could serve 1,000 students. Those numbers never came close.
“It’s very disappointing, but obviously we can’t stay open if we don’t have the enrollment,” said Oates, who is still working with students who were attending the Madison campus of Tulane when it was closed in May 2017.