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Dowling alumni seek to resurrect the bankrupt college

Tom Daly, left, the former dean of Dowling's

Tom Daly, left, the former dean of Dowling's School of Aviation, and Frank Corso Jr., speak outside a fundraiser by the Alumni Association of Dowling College at the school's former Oakdale campus on Tuesday. Credit: John Roca

A small group of Dowling College alumni met Tuesday evening to discuss resurrecting the defunct liberal arts college.

The Alumni Association of Dowling College held a private informational meeting and its first fundraising event at the William K. Vanderbilt Mansion on the school’s former Oakdale campus. About 40 attendees were to discuss raising money to cover legal costs for a school charter to eventually reopen a successor to Dowling on Long Island.

The college — which lost its accreditation, ran out of funds and closed in 2016 — sold the Oakdale property for $26.1 million at auction last year as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

Frank Corso Jr., president of the alumni group and one of the organizers of the resurrection effort, said the funds raised were meant to generate “additional dollars to further engage attorneys so they can do what needs to be done, and that includes interacting with the licensing bodies” needed to reopen the college.

Corso, who graduated from Dowling in 1977 and runs a business advisory firm, said some members of the alumni group, including himself and Tom Daly, former dean of Dowling’s school of aviation, had been working toward reopening the school for several months.

“Some that will be attending had no knowledge of what we had been working on,” he said before the meeting.

His group has been in communication with officials with Mercury International LLC, the new owner of the 25-acre campus, Corso said. The alumni group “would like to entertain” the idea of reopening the school there, though “we have been looking at other properties on Long Island,” he said.

Don Cook, director of operations for Mercury International, said Mercury was open to reviewing a proposal from the group, though the company was proceeding with its own plan to open a higher education institute at the site.  Mercury submitted a zoning application to the Town of Islip earlier this year for that purpose.

Thomas Wassel, an attorney for Mercury International, said Tuesday that a hearing on the application was expected to be held next month.

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