Plans by American Jewish University leaders to sell its 22-acre Los Angeles campus fell through last week, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
The $65 million deal with a Swiss education company, EF Education First, was intended to alleviate the institution’s financial struggles.
American Jewish University’s rabbinical school, like many seminaries, has struggled to attract applicants in recent years, according to JTA. The institution closed its undergraduate program in 2018.
“This is obviously a disappointment, but we will regroup to ensure that we use our land and facilities in the best way possible,” Jeffrey Herbst, president of the institution, said of the failed sale in an email to students and employees on Wednesday.
EF Education First planned to use the site to open a language academy for international students. Company leaders allege plans halted because of xenophobic pushback from residents near the campus, the JTA reported.
“Based on the comments we have heard and the letters submitted in opposition, it is crystal clear to us that there are individuals in the neighborhood who do not want international students in their community,” EF Education vice president Shawna Marino wrote in a letter. “This is the first time we have experienced this level of fear and bias.”
Elizabeth Barcohana, vice president of a local homeowners’ association, told the Forward that concerns “were always about safety, security and parking that logically flow from their high enrollment numbers.”
Alternate plans for the land remain unclear.