Marymount California University, a small Catholic school in Rancho Palos Verdes, will close its doors this summer after more than 50 years in operation, officials announced on Friday.

The decision to close stems in large part to financial struggles driven by falling enrollment, increasing operating costs and the COVID-19 pandemic, the university said in a statement.

“This is an extremely sad day for Marymount and for the legacy and traditions lost, both for our campus community and the local Palos Verdes area we have called home for more than 50 years,” Brian Marcotte, the university’s president, said in the Friday statement. “This decision was not made lightly.”

The announcement comes about six months after the 54-year-old institution agreed to merge with Saint Leo University in Florida in a move that was billed as an opportunity to expand both schools’ offerings. But the merger was scuttled in recent months after the regulatory approval process hit a snag.

The final slate of courses will end this summer, and the school will permanently close on Aug. 31, officials said.

The school said it would help its 500 full-time students transfer to other universities and colleges and assist 140 full-time faculty and staff in finding other work. A small number of staffers will remain employed to help wind down the college’s operations.

Marymount California University began as a two-year junior college called Marymount Palos Verdes College in 1968, when it was founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. Nine years ago, the school updated its name “to reflect its expansion to a multicampus institution of higher learning, offering both four-year undergraduate degrees, as well as graduate degree programs.”

The widening of the university’s scope and footprint was typified by the planned merger with Saint Leo. But that deal’s failure, combined with strong financial and enrollment headwinds familiar to many small, private colleges across the nation, drove the decision by the university’s board of trustees to close its doors, the school said.

Though Marymount California offers only a handful of degree programs, it also fielded a number of sports teams, including a nationally ranked men’s soccer team.

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