Stanford looks to expand onto campus of nearby Catholic university

Silhouettes of two students walking near a row of columns on the Stanford University campus
Stanford University is working on plans to grow its campus, by expanding onto the Notre Dame de Namur University campus in Belmont.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

Stanford University is working on plans to expand its physical presence in the Bay Area by acquiring the campus of the Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont.

Stanford announced plans lastSeptember to enter into an agreement with the private Roman Catholic school, which last year announced a plan to switch to offering primarily online graduate programs, a move that would eventually leave its 46-acre campus mostly unused.

For the record:

3:43 p.m. Nov. 18, 2022An earlier version of this article said the campus at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont was unused. University students are currently enrolled on campus. The earlier version also said Stanford entered in an agreement with the university in late September. Stanford actually entered into the agreement in September 2021.

NDNU currently has a “full complement” of students enrolled on campus, according to spokesperson Kurt Allen, who did not immediately respond to questions about how many students are on campus or when the university planned to transition to mostly online courses.

Stanford officials said the Belmont campus appealed to university leaders because of its setup as a residential academic campus, but also for its proximity to Stanford’s Palo Alto and Redwood City campuses. The Belmont campus is about six miles from the Redwood City campus, and 12 miles from Palo Alto.

“Establishing a Stanford Belmont campus presents exciting potential opportunities for our educational mission,” Provost Persis Drell said in a statement. “I was inspired by its beauty, history, and place in the community, and the many possibilities it holds for learning and community engagement.”


The UC strike is calling for better pay and benefits for teaching assistants, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, tutors and fellows.

Dec. 1, 2022

The deal is still pending a review of Stanford’s development plan for the Notre Dame campus by the Belmont City Council. The plan doesn’t include Stanford’s specific blueprints for the new campus, but Stanford spokesperson Luisa Rapport said it “sets specific conditions under which those detailed plans can be submitted in the future,” if approved.

Rapport declined to share the price that the two universities agreed upon for the property.

Stanford officials said the university does not plan to move any current departments or research from the main campus to Belmont, but to focus on “new academic uses and greater community engagement,” according to a news release on the project.

It’s unclear how NDNU will continue to operate on the campus, if at all, but Rapport said if Stanford purchases the campus, NDNU has the option to rent space for its operations.

NDNU officials said in a statement that the university will remain on the Belmont campus “for the near future, until we have a plan for a new location.”

“NDNU is independently pursuing to transition into a university offering online and hybrid graduate programs and undergraduate degree completion programs in Business, Education, and Clinical Psychology,” the statement said.

“This agreement between NDNU and Stanford gives NDNU the flexibility to grow again in new and exciting ways,” NDNU President Beth Martin said in a statement. “We will be able to continue the programs for which we are so well known, and to add new programs directly targeted to changing student needs.”


Stanford’s redevelopment of the Belmont property is expected to take more than 30 years, university officials said, and would include preserving some of the historic buildings on the campus.

“This is a unique opportunity for Stanford to support higher education in the region, connect with residents in a part of the Peninsula where we have historically not had as much of a presence and invest in expanding our academic mission in service to the community,” Drell said in a statement.