The College of Saint Elizabeth, which has provided undergraduate education for young women since 1899, will become fully coeducational for fall 2016. This decision to accept male students into the daytime programs was made by the Board of Trustees on June 12, 2015, after more than a year of intensive analysis, study and meetings with key campus groups including students, faculty, alumni and staff.
The College’s decision is in alignment with the strong history of the Sisters of Charity. “Going coeducational embraces our past and broadens our reach,” said Sister Rosemary Moynihan, Chair, Board of Trustees of the College. “It will enable us to maintain our commitment to the Sisters of Charity, whose mission is to serve where there is need. In 1899 that need was for the education of young women. Today, the need is to produce servant leaders of both women and men who are committed to making the world a better place.”
“We have a 115-year history of transforming lives and educating first generation college students. We recognize there is an opportunity to do this for both women and men. We intend to be the preferred, reliable source of qualified and talented students of promise,” said President Helen J. Streubert. “Therefore, the decision to go coeducational will allow us to make our dynamic learning environment available to increasing numbers of women who would not otherwise have considered us, and to male students who will also benefit from the mission and values that CSE represents. This extended reach will enhance our community and give us the opportunity to expand our academic program offerings.”
The majority of alumni and current students alike support coeducational classes. Emma Byrne, Board member and graduate of the class of 1965 said, “Higher education has changed significantly since many of us attended college….Our goal is to ensure CSE is as relevant for future students as it was for us.” A more recent alum, Jessica Ringo, ’09, Business Administration, also favors the change. “I think it’s a good business move. It’s the only way to keep CSE competitive.”
The campus newspaper, The Station, conducted a survey of students this spring asking about coeducational status. More than 75 percent of respondents favored the change. “I’m for going coeducational,” said Marissa Sherman, ’16, foods and nutrition. “I think if we bring in men it shows we are open to change and open to a diverse population. It’s realistic. The workplace is made up of males and females so this will better prepare us to succeed after graduation.” Another student, Sharolin Sanders, ’16, criminal justice major, agrees: “Our school going coed would be a great opportunity to expand our academic programs as well as athletics.”
National trends demonstrate that fewer than 42 women’s colleges remain, down from more than 230 in 1960. Just this year alone two other women’s colleges announced changes; Saint Mary of the Woods College in Indiana decided to become coeducational, while another, Sweet Briar College in Virginia, announced it will close. Two years ago, New Jersey’s other single sex college, Georgian Court in Lakewood, went coeducational.
To prepare for fall 2016, the College has started a review of academics, campus facilities, and sports programs. Residence hall space will be made available for male residents in fall 2016. A full complement of sports programs will be offered to men within three years to meet NCAA guidelines. The College is also preparing to launch a Women’s Institute which will continue to prepare young women for leadership roles in the world.
The College’s enrollment of 1,411 students in 19 undergraduate, nine graduate and two doctoral programs is roughly divided into thirds: daytime programs, continuing studies and graduate. Continuing studies courses which are offered evenings, weekends and online have been coeducational since 1976; graduate programs have been coeducational since introduction in 1993.