Molloy helps Dowling students
By Candice Ferrette
About 300 Dowling College students displaced by their school's announced closure turned out Thursday at an academic counseling event aimed to help them plan the next steps in their education.
A steady stream of students and their families attended the daylong event, coordinated by Molloy College at its Suffolk County center at Republic Airport.
"What we are trying to do today is really just give them options and tell them that they need to be looking at all of the colleges on Long Island, because what we would like to do is keep them all on Long Island," said Linda Albanese, vice president for enrollment management at Molloy College.
Molloy, a 4,600-student private school based in Rockville Centre, was designated as the primary contact for Dowling students. About 1,700 Dowling students are potentially looking for a new college to which they can transfer. Officials said some already may have made alternate plans, particularly those who had planned to enter Dowling in the fall semester.
At the drop-in session, many students and their families said they were frustrated by the lack of communication and clarity from the Dowling administration.
Bridgit Manseau, 51, of Rocky Point, said she thought the state would have more oversight. Her son, Ryan, 24, received his acceptance from Dowling's MBA program on Tuesday - the same day the school announced it was closing.
"Dowling has had issues over the last decade, but for a university to close like this is shocking," said the elder Manseau, noting the disruption in the lives of students and their families.
"There should be a safety net in place," she said. "We are always talking about keeping young people in the area and that we want kids to stay on the Island - well, this isn't the way to do it."
Dowling College officials' announcement Tuesday afternoon of the 48-year-old institution's impending closure came after years of dropping enrollment, financial struggles and leadership changes. Dowling has $54 million in long-term debt.
That announcement said the school would shut its doors on Friday. However, on Thursday, the school's website said the trustees "extended the potential closing date until Wednesday, June 8" and said students could get their official transcripts at the Oakdale campus through that date, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dowling President Albert Inserra declined to comment Thursday.
About two dozen advisers were on hand at Molloy's center to answer students' questions, such as whether they would be able to obtain their degrees on time, if their financial aid package would apply to their new college and what academic programs still are available to them.
Plans for housing, schedules and other practical considerations were discussed as students expressed an overwhelming sense of uncertainty about their futures. Those who were further along in obtaining their degrees or enrolled in graduate programs at Dowling were particularly concerned.
"My whole summer is on pause right now," said Jonathan Singh, 22, of Port Jefferson Station, as he waited to speak with one of the counselors.
Singh, who was attending Dowling on a cross-country running scholarship, said he is one course away from getting the bachelor's degree that would make him the first in his family to graduate from college.
"It means a lot," he said. "It really does."