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Board of Trustees Decision Regarding HNU’s Path Forward

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff of HNU:

We are writing today to share with you difficult news about Holy Names University’s planned path forward: The Spring 2023 semester will be HNU’s last.

HNU is struggling financially as we face rising operational costs, declining enrollment, and an increased need for tuition discounts and institutional financial aid. Both COVID-19 and an economic downturn have disproportionately impacted our students. In the past year, we explored many partnership and funding opportunities, but we did not secure an agreement that will allow the University to continue. We are, therefore, forced to take the painful action of closing the University after the completion of the Spring 2023 semester.

To help our students continue their academic path forward, Holy Names has developed a historic transfer agreement with Dominican University of California. HNU students will have the option to continue their studies at Dominican and complete their existing degree requirements as planned.

Context and Decisions

In 2018, HNU’s administration implemented a five-year strategic business plan to establish a foundation on which the University’s mission could continue. The plan was developed to address the financial and environmental challenges facing HNU, and inspired investments in curriculum, student support, marketing, institutional advancement, and technology.

In the following years, the University experienced some positive results through the launch of new programs, a digital learning initiative, and expanded enrollment activities. Ultimately, the positive developments could not counter the unexpected challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, that exacerbated years of multi-million dollar operating deficits and national declining enrollment trends.

After a comprehensive operational and financial assessment in November 2021, HNU’s Board of Trustees determined that a strategic partnership with another educational institution was a necessary path forward for HNU. To ensure short-term financial stability while partnership options were explored, HNU simultaneously implemented budget reductions and programmatic and organizational changes.

Over the past year HNU has continued partnership discussions, but the conversations did not progress as expected. It has become clear that even should an arrangement form with another institution in the coming months, it would not allow HNU to offer classes following the Spring 2023 semester.

After thoughtful deliberation, HNU’s Board of Trustees determined it was necessary for HNU to cease operations following the Spring 2023 semester.

Transfer Agreement with Dominican University of California

HNU and Dominican University of California have entered into an agreement by which HNU undergraduate and graduate academic programs will transition to Dominican. Starting in Fall 2023, students will have the option to continue their studies at Dominican and complete their degree on-schedule.

Working together, HNU and Dominican will develop clear transfer pathways for students. There will also be a process for faculty, staff, and students to explore employment opportunities with Dominican.

The exceptions are the Kodály Music Program and the Raskob Learning Institute and Day School.  HNU is in discussions with other institutions to establish a path forward for these programs.

How HNU Students will be Supported

Students who can complete their degree requirements by the end of spring semester or are currently progressing in HNU’s graduate nursing programs, will be able to earn their degree from HNU.

HNU students who are not able to finish their degree requirements by the end of spring semester, will receive a transfer plan to Dominican or another institution of their choice.

In addition to Dominican, we are developing agreements with other educational institutions to accept students from HNU, and these agreements may include waived application fees, requirements, and deadlines. We will also provide students with detailed and organized information on over 45 different institutions.

What Comes Next

Since its founding in 1868, HNU has become a deeply respected Bay Area university and has sustained an unparalleled community of authentic and deeply connected individuals—united together in a mission of service, learning, and growth.

HNU ceasing operation following the spring semester is a wrenching decision informed by immutable financial realities. We recognize this decision will impact far more than our students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Altered, too, will be the lives of thousands of family members, friends, community partners, local businesses, and supporters of HNU.

In the coming months, we will be offering opportunities for community members to come together to grieve the loss of our beloved HNU and honor its remarkable legacy.

We thank you–our entire community–for your patience, engagement, and guidance over the past year as we have worked to pursue a financially viable path forward for Holy Names.

This has been, and will continue to be, difficult, especially on our students, faculty, and staff.  While the University’s Cabinet has been as transparent as possible throughout this journey, we appreciate how frustrating the limitations on what could be shared publicly have been.

The Board of Trustees and Cabinet have worked long and hard to find a different outcome.  Many of the Trustees are alumni of HNU and/or Sisters of the Holy Names.  We also appreciate the support of our sponsor, The U.S.-Ontario Province Leadership Team of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

We know that HNU’s legacy will be kept alive through the spirit and community of each of you.


Steven Borg ‘86
Chairperson, Board of Trustees
Holy Names University

Carol Sellman, SNJM ’69, MM ‘78, EdD
Vice President for Mission Integration
Holy Names University

December 19, 2022 Press Release