Fontbonne University is purchasing the campus of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Manchester, Mo., currently owned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the university announced at a press conference Monday, Nov. 20. The property will serve as a campus extension for the university, providing additional space for academic and athletic growth. The final transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, as well as zoning and financial contingencies. Financial details are not currently available.
Watch the press conference below.
“Fontbonne’s 2016 strategic plan, Fontbonne Forward, included a goal to ‘explore the feasibility of purchasing additional property for athletic and other academic facilities off campus.’” Fontbonne University President J. Michael Pressimone said. “When Kennedy High School became available, we recognized an opportunity to work with the Archdiocese of St. Louis to keep that property committed to Catholic higher education in the St. Louis region. It gives the university capacity to grow the number of students it serves.”
Fontbonne plans to use the property to grow its graduate and evening programs for adult populations, which will initially include the expansion of its MBA and master’s programs in accounting, supply chain management, and management and leadership. Kennedy’s West County location allows the university to bring additional academic opportunity to a rapidly expanding geographic area. Additionally, Kennedy’s fields and gymnasiums will offer a home base for Fontbonne’s athletic teams, many of which currently practice and play on leased fields.
“Academics are always our first priority, but athletic recruitment is important to our growth model,” said Pressimone. “Undergraduate students want the opportunity to pursue a quality education while continuing to play the sports they love. Providing practice fields, gymnasiums and a new track will help us expand our NCAA Divison III athletic opportunities and attract students from this region and beyond.”
The university plans to grow its track and field and dance teams, as well as add men’s and women’s wrestling programs, women’s lacrosse, a cheer team and e-sports opportunities.
“Expansion is good for both us and the region, but we remain committed to our main campus in Clayton, as well as to our student populations in the city and in the Metro East,” said Pressimone. “We want to be a good neighbor in both Clayton and Manchester, and we look forward to engaging these communities in conversation as we move forward with plans and new possibilities.”