DAWSONVILLE — Students at a Catholic college in Dawsonville will return from spring break on Monday to begin packing to say goodbye for the semester.
In an e-mail sent out Wednesday to students, staff and faculty, the Rev. Shawn Aaron announced Southern Catholic College would be ending the semester on April 15 instead of May 13 due to a lack of funding.
"Words cannot express how profoundly sorrowful I am at this situation," wrote Aaron, who was named president of the college last fall.
Students will receive full credit for the semester, according to Jim Fair, communications director for the Legion of Christ, which forged a partnership with Southern Catholic College in 2009 in an effort to pull the struggling college out of financial peril.
Aaron, who was installed by the Legion of Christ, said officials met at the end of March with potential benefactors in an attempt to keep the college open through the end of the semester.
"I am grateful to the benefactor for even considering our petition for support," Aaron wrote. "Unfortunately, it was not to be."
Students, faculty and staff were caught by surprise when they received the e-mail Wednesday morning, according to a spokesman who answered the phone at the college.
"We’re all still digesting it," he said.
Aaron’s e-mail stated that an assembly on Monday morning will provide detailed information to students, faculty and staff regarding the closure.
It is not clear if the college is closing for the semester or permanently.
Repeated calls to Aaron were not returned.
A private, four-year, co-educational liberal arts college, Southern Catholic College opened in 2005 as the state’s first and only Catholic, residential college.
Last May, 46 students from across the country and some international students made up the college’s inaugural graduating class.
There are currently about 240 students enrolled at the college, which employs about 24 full- and part-time faculty members and has about 25 support staff.
Southern Catholic College sits on 100 acres about five miles north of Dawsonville on property adjacent to the now defunct Gold Creek Gold Club, which closed last year and fell into foreclosure.