Georgian Court University Going Coed
After being primarily a woman’s college for over 100 years, Georgian Court University in Lakewood, is making the change to allow male students full time.
The college will be officially fully coed starting the Fall of 2012 when male applicants will be accepted for undergraduate courses. In the fall of 2013, men will be able to live on campus as well as participate in athletics.
Currently male students are allowed to attend the school’s evening courses, as well as enroll in the graduate programs.
Speaking at the universities Wellness Center Tuesday, Dr. Rosemary Jeffries noted that it was an idea who’s time had come, especially with the current trend of single sex institutions going coed.
Georgian Court is the only faith based college in the lower sixteen counties within New Jersey and Dr. Jeffries believes opening up the college for both gender’s will create more opportunities for prospective students wanting to stay local.
“If a young man wants to stay home and go to school, as many of the students at Georgian Court already do, they don’t have that option because the nearest Catholic of faith based institution is almost an hour away for them.”
By 2013 the school will also have 4 varsity sports established for men, which they expect will add 40 to 50 students off the bat. She expects roughly 100 male enrollments in the first year.
Jefferies says men’s bathroom’s are already built throughout the facility, and newer buildings (like the Wellness Center) are fully equipped for both genders. She expects dorming will set by sectioning off wings or floors of current residents halls for male students.
The university’s decision falls in line with what many other single sex colleges have been doing. Currently, fewer than 60 women’s colleges remain in the United States, and in the past decade ten schools have become fully coed.
Georgian Court University Board of Trustee Chair Raymon Shea says from the board’s perspective the decision made sense, not only to expands the school’s reach as an educational institution but also from the financial benefits being coed provides.
“No question it will have a positive impact on the bottom line revenue.” Says Shea “but the size of that impact is relatively minor in the early years. You have to build that. That’s what we learned from the other institutions we’ve interviewed.”
Jefferies says while making the switch they consulted with schools like Chestnut Hill College, Immaculata University, and Rosemont College; all schools that went from women’s colleges to coed.
Dr. Jefferies says the current mission statement of the university won’t change, and though the school has started to allow male students in a lesser capacity since 1976, even fully coed, Georgian Courts Mission statement of having a special concern for women will remain.
“We will have a special concern for women so we can appropriately offer what we call women in leadership programs for them and other opportunities.”
She adds with more men on campus the curriculum will be expanding accordingly as well.
“We also hope that in this transition year, we’ll be looking at programs that support young men and their particular set of needs that might be different than the women that we traditionally served.”
Noting that programs such as nursing can be expanded even more to accommodate the expected interest from male students.
Shea says the University has no national aspirations, but instead wants to establish itself as a regional university that he hopes will attract part of the thirty thousand students who leave the state for college.
Georgian Court Sophomore Amy Berry says she was apprehensive about the decision for the university to go coed, she understands that it will be beneficial to more people for both men and women to attend the school.
“The way they are addressing the situation and the way they are thinking about, they are being very thoughtful in who they are asking questions of and who they are including in the decision making.”
A volleyball and track and field athlete, she isn’t intimidated by the prospect of another crop of athletes in the male division. In fact she’s hopeful a new gender will bring with it more attention to all the sports.
“We honestly don’t get enough support at our games sometimes, so if there are males here they can offer something that we really need.”
However one of the things that Berry expects to be the most different is the social aspect of having both sexes on campus.
“Right now girls go to class wearing sweatpants or whatever we feel like. Girls will probably dress up a little more.”
However from a practical perspective, Berry believes being coed could help draw more elite female athletes.
“Whenever I’m talking to perspective athletes who are trying to come here, one of the factors is that we’re all women and they don’t want to be in a school with all women.”