Neumann University Doubles Size of Campus With Land Acquisition

The Our Lady of Angels Convent, part of the land acquisition at Neumann University.
Image via Neumann University.
The Our Lady of Angels Convent, part of the land acquisition at Neumann University.

Neumann University has purchased 63 acres of land, along and several buildings from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, the founders of the university.

The purchase took place June 30. It includes the Our Lady of Angels Convent and three smaller buildings. The land is next to the existing university and nearly doubles its size from 70 acres to 133 acres.

“Though bittersweet in many ways, this transaction allows us to focus solely on our mission and ministries,” said Sr. Kathy Dougherty, outgoing congregational minister for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. “Frankly, we’ve reached a point at which we no longer needed or could justify owning these facilities and this land.”

The Sisters founded the university in 1965.

The purchase allows Neumann to expand its resident student capacity during the 2021-22 academic year. It also means Neumann can initiate its new campus master plan. The plan includes building a student center, adding athletic facilities and increasing classroom space in current academic buildings.

“This acquisition works on so many levels,” said Neumann President Chris Domes. “This is a great win-win, and the sisters feel the same way. It positions us to strengthen the residential experience for our students and supports our desire for expanded extracurricular programs and athletics.”

The 38 Sisters who live and work in the convent will be staying through 2030.

The land acquisition includes sacred spaces, including statues, symbols and Our Lady of Angels Cemetery. The university has vowed to preserve these spaces, in keeping with its long-time relationship with the sisters.

At their height in 1958, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia numbered 1,600 sisters. They worked in grade schools and high schools, in hospitals and centers of nursing, and in social services.

Today’s congregation includes about 360 sisters–with a median age of 82–in 19 states, Ireland and Africa.

The acquisition of property will take place incrementally over time. The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia will lease space in the convent at least for the next nine years.

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