Notre Dame de Namur University will cut several programs and eliminate five full-time faculty positions in an attempt to cut costs, the Catholic school announced Monday.

The school, which serves about 1,600 students, will get rid of programs that have low student enrollment, including in musical performance, fine arts, graphic design and an evening liberal arts program. The faculty layoffs are tied to programs that have been phased out in recent years, the school said.

“For the last several years, with the help of outside experts, the board has been looking at solutions to address recent challenges,” Board Chair Frank Hannig said in a statement. “We have responded by not only reducing costs, but also implementing new ventures: opening a campus in Tracy, offering online programs for business administration and TESOL, and degree-completion programs on local community college campuses.”

Opened in 1851, NDNU was the first California college authorized to grant women bachelor’s degrees. But options for women have expanded and demand for religious education has waned. Like other parochial and private schools in the area, including Mills College in Oakland, the college has struggled financially in recent years, partly due to low enrollment.

As it tries to grow, the school will focus on “its historic strengths” in education, psychology, business and science, the statement said. The school also recently opened a Virtual and Augmented Reality Learning Center.

To try to boost enrollment, the school will use a recent $1 million donation to fund scholarships for first-generation students.

Full story at Mercury News.