A small liberal arts college on Long Island that was on the brink of closing down is close to a deal to keep its doors open.
Dowling College is negotiating with Global University Systems, an organization based in London, to keep the Oakdale school open since Monday, the school announced Wednesday, confirming what a source told NBC 4 New York earlier.
"Negotiations between the College and Global University Systems may allow Dowling to continue on the path of stabilizing the College and providing quality educational opportunities to our students," a statement from Dowling College said.
The school was initially set to close on Friday after 48 years as an independent institution, but the closure was later put off to this week.
A message to its website earlier Wednesday that said it was negotiating "around the clock" with the organization, which it says has a "proven ability to turn around the fortunes of colleges buffeted by economic challenges."
In announcing it was staving off closure, Dowling said "We look forward to remaining an important part of the Long Island higher education community; and, we recognize the importance of Dowling College to the local economic communities that we serve, especially the many small local businesses that benefit from a financially strengthened and sustainable Dowling College."
Sources have said that the school's $54 million in debt were an issue in the negotiations and must be restructured.
Dowling College President Albert Inserra noted that Dowling is one of many small liberal arts colleges in the country fighting to survive. Enrollment has plummeted 62 percent since 2005. Tuition has nearly doubled, but it hasn't stabilized the college's finances.
"Everybody is trying to do the right thing," Inserra told reporters at the nearly desolate campus, where school is out for the summer. "This is a complicated deal that requires very sophisticated analysis."
The school had 1,652 undergraduate students registered this past year and expected about 1,000 students to return for the fall session before it announced plans to close. Since the announcement, hundreds of students visited the campus to obtain transcripts and begin making arrangements to transfer.
There was no immediate response Thursday from an email inquiry to Global University Systems for comment.
Founded in 1968 by the philanthropist Robert Dowling, the college had two campuses on eastern Long Island. Its main home was in Oakdale on property once owned by the Vanderbilt family. It had schools of arts and sciences, aviation, education and business.
Dowling is not alone among small private colleges struggling with financial trouble. Last month, Burlington College in Vermont, formerly led by the wife of Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, said it will close after taking on heavy debt.