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February 09, 2022

Arcadia University expands campus footprint with purchase of former Bishop McDevitt High School

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia closed the Montgomery County institution last year due to declining enrollment and rising tuition costs

Education Schools
Arcadia University Archdiocese of Philadelphia Street View/Google

Arcadia University has agreed to purchase the former Bishop McDevitt High School property in Montgomery County from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The former home of a shuttered Archdiocese of Philadelphia high school will soon be incorporated into Arcadia University's growing campus in Montgomery County.

The private college reached an agreement Tuesday with the archdiocese to purchase the property that once housed Bishop McDevitt High School before it closed at the end of the 2020-21 academic year due to declining enrollment and rising financial deficits.

The property sits on 18-plus acres at 125 Royal Ave., in the Wyncote section of Cheltenham Township. It currently includes a 95,700-square-foot, four-story structure, athletic fields and a parking lot located behind the building.

The archdiocese and Arcadia entered into a shared use deal in 2014 over the high school campus. The agreement allowed for the establishment of dual credit enrollment programs and other academic initiatives for both institutions. 

As part of the agreement, the archdiocese granted the university a right of first offer if the property were ever to be up for sale. Arcadia's purchase of the property totaled $6.5 million, the Inquirer reported.

Arcadia said that the former high school, which is located less than a mile away from the university's main campus in Glenside, will help further expand its academic footprint in Montgomery County. 

Details regarding the specific use of the property and opportunities for community engagement will be made available at a later date, the university said.

"We are grateful to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for our years of a mutually beneficial partnership and for this extraordinary opportunity," Arcadia University President Ajay Nair said. "The acquisition of this property will afford us the space to continue to advance our esteemed academic programs while enhancing the educational experience for Arcadia students." 

Bishop McDevitt High School closed its doors last spring after more than six decades. The school was operating at a 40% enrollment capacity last year and would have had to implement significant tuition increases to cover its operating costs. That would've prevented the school from continuing to offer affordable, high-quality education, the archdiocese said.

The school was recommended for closure after a sustainability study was conducted by the archdiocese to examine enrollment totals, student retention rates, regional demographic trends, capacity figures and the financial solvency of each of its 17 high schools.

While the school's closure was not solely caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the archdiocese said that the public health crisis accelerated its dissolution.

The archdiocese worked to transition students, teachers, staff and administrators to other nearby Catholic high schools for this academic year.

"Bishop McDevitt High School served the community for more than 60 years as an archdiocesan high school," said Kenneth Gavin, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's chief communications officer. "We believe that the sale to Arcadia University, an institution well-rooted in Glenside and Cheltenham Township, will help preserve the building and enable it to continue to serve the community as an academic institution for years to come."

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