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Dowling College (1968-2016) Oakdale campus is sold to the 2nd highest bidder NCF Capital Ltd. for $26.1 million

Updated on December 17, 2017

If someone were to tell me you will outlive the college you graduated from, I would not believe them. I'd say, no way, not possible. Well, it did happen to me.

I am a graduate of Dowling College who earned a Bachelor's Degree in the 1980s. Sadly in the Summer of 2016 Dowling College closed its doors after 48 years.

The Oakdale campus focal point is the 45,000 square feet William K. Vanderbilt summer home later renamed Fortunoff Hall after a former benefactor Alan Fortunoff who paid to restore the mansion after a fire in 1974 badly damaged the historic structure.

The Oakdale campus was later renamed Rudolph Campus after another wealthy benefactor, Scott Rudolph. The Rudolph campus has 25-arces of waterfront property and is simply beautiful. The campus had a feel of tranquility and holds many fond memories for me.

I will always remember my favorite professors namely Dr. Thomas Tornquist who taught my Journalism class and Ned Bobkoff who taught dramatic arts. Professor Bobkoff was a talented acting teacher who never boasted about his acting talent and script writing ability. He simply demonstrated both when he taught us with passion.

Now to think my college is closed because it became saddled with too much debt, $65.8 million to be exact, is sad and shocking. Why did Dowling close? Likely adding a second 101-acre campus in 1994 in Shirley on Long Island, who's education focus was National Aviation and Transportation was a huge and costly mistake.

Years ago when I was a student in Oakdale, Dowling was not able to expand their student dormitories since the Idle Hour historic community would not allow it. As a result, Dowling looked to expand and build that sports facility they didn't have at their campus in Oakdale elsewhere.

So the dormitories and sports facilities were built in Shirley and Dowling over expanded. I though the campus in Oakdale was appealing enough to attract students who had a genuine interest in the Arts, Sciences, Business, Teaching and Aviation. They already had a small fleet of planes, a Rowing, Flying, Tennis, Basketball, Baseball and Lacrosse team. Wasn't that enough? Apparently not.

To think the degree that sits below the workstation I write from is from a middle states accredited college that doesn't exist anymore is sad and downright depressing. To see online both campuses being made available in bankruptcy via separate sealed-bid sales was hard to believe.

I actually thought someday when I got married, I'd have my wedding on campus in the ballroom of Fortunoff Hall. And how my wedding guests would be so impressed by the beauty of this historic mansion and its grounds.

I'm was hoping another College or University would buy the Oakdale campus and turns it into what it was meant to be; a college, and not a catering hall or country club.

The winner, and I mean winner, considering the William K. Vanderbilt summer mansion (Fortunoff Hall) alone was valued at $56 million, of the Dowling College Oakdale campus auction was initially Princeton Education Center LLC, who had the highest bid of $26.5 million when court documents were filed on Friday, April 7, 2017. However, they never closed on the prime property.

So instead, NCF Capital Ltd. who is based in Houston, Texas had the 2nd highest bid at $26.1 is the new buyer. They are identified in court documents as "An educational end-user."

I'm somewhat relieved that Dowling will remain a place of learning, which diminishes my sadness slightly. I cannot help but wonder; who is NCF Capital and what specifically will be done with the Oakdale campus now.

Myself, and my fellow alumni will forever feel a sense of loss that Dowling College is no more.


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      jameswritesbest 5 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comments. I remember and enjoyed the Lions Den. Agreed the environment was warm, welcoming and I'll add personal. It's sad Dowling is no more. I'm just hoping it remains a place of learning of some kind and doesn't become a country club or catering hall. That would upset me further.

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      E Mcconkey 5 weeks ago

      I was a student at Dowling in the mid to late 70,s . I just heard about the closing. It hurts. My father was a Dean, and I remember the extra hours and effort he put in to the school, as well as the professors, other administrators and the staff. They created a warm and welcoming environment. This was during the Robinson (1st) administration. The end of my tenure was during the beginning of the Meskill admin. My father soon left Dowling for a presidency. My father was even one of the originators of the Lions Den. I remember the change in the direction of DC. As with any business you must weigh your decisions carefully, or not. I saw the soul of DC fading away. As well as the potential for a solid bottom line. It pains me that DC went down as dad had built the night school so much and started the first in nation degree for the air traffic controllers. I still have MANY happy memories of DC. and I remember his warnings. I'm just glad that my father is not here to see this.

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      Dan 3 months ago

      I graduated from Dowling in the late 90's and at that time it was doing very well. They were making a lot of money with their education programs, training teachers but unfortunately those programs were largely a scam, not just at Dowling but at other colleges as well. There are very few teacher job openings for the graduates at nearby school systems and the ones faraway that do have openings, pay wages below the poverty level. This has become public knowledge now and fewer people are doing these educational programs that helped fund Dowling. Throw in the costly NAT center where you can only train a limited number of students due to the required resources for flying and you have created a recipe for going bankrupt. They also had a series of presidents in recent years that just seemed to milk the job and failed come up with any viable solutions before bankruptcy was left to be the only option. A very sad situation that it could not be saved. Make no mistake, by the 1990's, until it closed, it had extremely bright and talented professors and provided a top-notch private college education with small class sizes and amazing facilities. Unfortunately money is made by focusing on quantity over quality these days.

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      Joe 1dot0 7 months ago

      I attended Dowling College for one academic year in the mid-1970's and could not wait to transfer out of that hole after one semester. Both dorm and academic administration were an incompetent joke.

      They put a Linguistics teacher in charge of an Algebra class, who couldn't hack it. Complaints ended the class halfway through the semester and they distributed us to two other over loaded sections,or could take "Incompletes" and screw up our progression at no fault of our own .

      The dorm was a ghettos. For the spring semester, we waited until mid-February to occupy our chosen apartment because Mike the dorm director would not evict a welfare occupant in time who had no affiliation with the college. The kitchen was crawling with roaches until we left in May, despite repeated visits by exterminated.

      I am surprised D.C. lasted the decade, let only 40 more years. Their real purpose in life was to handle drop-downs from SUNY Stony Brook in Junior year when they could not hack their academics.

      Consider this bankruptcy and closure a mercy killing and long overdue. Good riddance. There is a God.

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      Keith M. Dallas 10 months ago

      Moving article, James, and I definitely sympathize. It definitely sounds like Dowling's fatal error was "delusions of grandeur." I would be greatly surprised if someone bought the campuses to resurrect the college. As much as it pains me to say it, a catering hall or country club is going to be more profitable than an academic institution... or at least not as expensive to operate.