UCLA buys former Marymount California campuses for $80M

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Dive Brief: 

  • The University of California, Los Angeles announced Tuesday that it is buying two sites from the defunct Marymount California University for $80 million.
  • UCLA said the land acquisition — the largest in its history — will expand access to education at the university. The purchase will enable UCLA to add almost 1,000 students, and the sites may be able to host academic programs next year. 
  • With the purchase, UCLA will own Marymount California University’s 24.5-acre main campus in Rancho Palos Verdes. It will also own an 11-acre residential site in San Pedro. Both sites are about 30 miles south of UCLA’s campus. 

Dive Insight: 

Purchasing the two sites could enable UCLA to grow enrollment and expand its housing capacity. The university has been under pressure to do both, but has been limited by its 419-acre campus in Westwood — the smallest among the undergraduate institutions in the University of California System. 

Still, the UC system is hoping to increase enrollment by 20,000 students across its 10 campuses by 2030. UCLA had about 46,000 students in fall 2021, accounting for about 16% of the system’s overall enrollment.  Far more students apply to the university than it can accomodate, admitting only 11% of freshmen applicants last fall.

“As demand for our academic offerings continues to grow, this acquisition will allow us to expand student access in line with UC’s 2030 goals, strengthen our connections to the greater L.A. region, and deepen our institution’s research and public service impact,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement. 

Marymount California announced in April that it was shutting down after a merger with fellow Catholic institution Saint Leo University fell through. Officials said years of falling enrollment, rising operating costs and pandemic-related challenges all contributed to the closure. 

Residential developers showed interest in Marymount California’s properties following its closure, but UCLA and the institution reached an agreement because of their shared educational purpose, according to the announcement. 

Marymount received 41 formal bids for the properties and narrowed those down to seven contenders, including three educational institutions, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Marymount board selected UCLA because it planned to retain the school’s “small-college culture,” Marymount President Brian Marcotte told the newspaper. 

The University of California’s regents approved the purchase last week. UCLA will use general revenue bonds to pay for the properties, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

UCLA is creating a task force of faculty and administrators to examine how to best use the property to further the university’s goals. UCLA is also pursuing other ways to grow enrollment. 

The university has been considering a number of new initiatives to serve more in-state students, such as by expanding course offerings and opening satellite campuses, according to the Daily Bruin, the university’s student newspaper. 

Tuesday’s announcement said those methods might include increasing summer enrollment, expanding online instruction and helping students graduate more quickly to free up spots for other learners.

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