Lewis University and St. Augustine College of Chicago have announced plans to move forward with a merger. SAC will become part of Lewis, pending approval from the Higher Learning Commission, the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the U.S. Department of Education.
Under the arrangement, Lewis University, a Catholic institution, will absorb the smaller St. Augustine, which had 737 students as of fall 2021, the most recent figures available from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Enrollment has been trending downward; in fall 2019, the last semester before the coronavirus pandemic, St. Augustine enrolled close to 1,000 students. Roughly a decade ago, in fall 2013, St. Augustine enrolled more than 1,600 students, per IPEDS data.
Lewis University reported enrollment of more than 6,000 students in fall 2021, according to IPEDS. Located just outside Chicago, Lewis is slated to retain St. Augustine’s campus in the city, providing direct access to that market, according to details in a joint news release.
Lewis University president David Livingston said in a statement Tuesday that the merger “will build upon the legacy and tradition of St. Augustine College, offering an expanded range of bilingual education programs, services and outreach to the growing Hispanic population in Chicago. No student today should face limited educational opportunity because of language. Especially not when the Hispanic community is the fastest growing population in Chicago.”