Liquidation signs line Drexel Road, the entrance to Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer. The college, which closed after the 2016-17 school year, is selling nearly everything as it continues the process of shuttering the campus. Staff photo: Dave Bangert/Journal & Courier
RENSSELAER – Wandering a sea of dorm chairs, file cabinets, sports equipment, you name it – everything it took to keep St. Joseph’s College stocked a school year ago – John Groppe considered a new desk lamp, as well as some thoughts he’d offered back in February.
Groppe, a professor emeritus of English for decades at the small, liberal arts college 40 miles north of Lafayette, recalled the gut punch of the announcement in February that St. Joe’s -- $27 million in debt and under the threat of losing accreditation – would temporarily suspend operations after the spring 2017 semester.
At the time, Groppe figured the real sadness would settle in right about now, when the 900 students and 200 members of faculty and staff would be roaming campus in the first weeks back for the 2017-18 school year.
“It didn’t take that long,” Groppe said.
One day, on a bike ride through campus in late June, he came upon concrete barricades at the college entrances. A few weeks later, bright yellow and black signs announcing the liquidation sale meant to clear most of campus and raise money to one day reopen the 125-year-old college in some way.