Stanford University intends to buy Notre Dame de Namur University’s Belmont campus, a move that would give Stanford more space to expand its educational programs and provide the struggling Notre Dame with a financial lifeline to stay afloat.

Under an agreement signed by the two universities, Stanford has exclusive rights until June 2025 to purchase the property, while NDNU will receive a deposit to secure its immediate future. NDNU and Stanford will remain independently-operated institutions where students will receive degrees solely through their respective universities.

“We are delighted to be planning for the future of the Belmont campus in a way that strengthens both universities and our respective connections to the community,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a written statement. “We have a chance to envision new and innovative academic uses for the site that are grounded in its rich history and embrace the dynamism of the Bay Area.”

The agreement marks the second deal cut this month by a revered Bay Area private college to save itself from financial ruin. Earlier this month, Mills College — a private women’s liberal arts college in East Oakland — signed a merger with Boston-based Northeastern University to jointly develop new academic programs that will be offered under the Mills-Northeastern umbrella by the Fall of 2022. The college will become a gender-inclusive campus.

Notre Dame de Namur University — a small private Catholic university established in 1851 in the middle of Belmont — is the third-oldest university in California and was the first authorized to grant baccalaureate degrees to women.

But in recent years, NDNU has struggled with enrollment and financial challenges, forcing officials to lay off staff, eliminate athletics and eventually shutter its undergraduate school entirely. As of this fall, the school has an enrollment of just 203 graduate students, with 8 full-time faculty and 34 part-time faculty, according to its website….

The above comes from an updated Oct. 1 story in the Mercury News.