A proposed merger between Heythrop College and Roehampton University will now not go ahead, it emerged this week.
The Society of Jesus, which runs the college, has withdrawn its support from the negotiations, a Heythrop statement said.
The statement said: “The Society of Jesus regrets it is unable to support any continuing negotiation with Roehampton University, as it believes it will be impossible to form a partnership which meets the requirements of all stakeholders. In due course it will consider how best to continue its work in the intellectual apostolate.”
The statement also revealed that Heythrop’s chair of governors, Andrew Kennedy, would be stepping down.
Concerns had arisen about the future Catholicity of Heythrop, particularly its Bellarmine Institute, which has pontifical status, as Roehampton is a non-Catholic institution.
Fr Michael Holman, the principal of the college, who last week announced his intention to stand down later in the year, will be in post until a new chair has been elected and the handover to a new principal is finished.
Commenting on Kennedy’s decision to step down, Fr Holman said: “Everyone at Heythrop is very grateful for the outstanding contribution Andrew has made to the life of the college over many years.
“It has been my privilege to work with Andrew both here at Heythrop and previously during my time as headmaster of Wimbledon College. In the last 18 months as chair, Andrew has worked very hard to find a way forward for the mission and work of Heythrop College to which he is committed. He has been a great support to me as Principal, to my colleagues on the staff, to his fellow governors and to our students. His strong sense of purpose will be missed by all who like me have had the pleasure of working with him,” Fr Holman said.
Jeremy Heap, the current deputy chair of governors, becomes acting chair with immediate effect.
Heythrop, which was founded by the Jesuits in 1614, will cease to exist as a constituent college of the University of London in two years’ time.