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Chatham attains university status

| Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Chatham College announced Tuesday that it has become a university -- a move that places it among a small group of women's universities with graduate programs that allow men.

"Only a handful are really preserving their undergraduate women's college at the same time they've added graduate programs," said Chatham President Esther L. Barazzone.

She cited Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., and Texas Woman's University as examples.

Founded in 1869, Chatham, located in Squirrel Hill, becomes the fifth local college approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for university status in the last five years. The others are Robert Morris in Moon, Seton Hill in Greensburg, Point Park in Downtown and Carlow in Oakland.

Universities generally have larger student bodies and a broader array of graduate programs than colleges.

Chatham has 1,700 students, including 800 graduate students. The school offered its first graduate program in 1994. Since then, it has expanded its graduate programs to 24 master's and four doctoral degrees.

"We've been actually like a university for a long time," said S. Murray Rust III, chairman of the university's board of trustees. "We're really just now calling ourselves what we really are."

Along with the name change comes a new marketing campaign and a change in organization. Barazzone said the university will reorganize into three schools -- Chatham College for Women, the College for Graduate Studies and the College for Continuing and Professional Studies -- each with its own dean.

The cost for the deans and marketing campaign will add as much as $1 million to its $27.4 million budget but would have been done anyway, Barazzone said. University officials offered assurances that the cost of becoming a university would not increase tuition and fees -- now at $24,808 a year -- beyond normal inflationary increases.

Students, leery initially, are warming to the move.

"To be honest, at first we were a little nervous for the change only because it was a big, historic change for the college, and we wanted to ensure that our heritage and identity as a historical women's college remained throughout the transition," said Alexa New, president of Chatham Student Government.

But now New, 21, a senior from Erie, calls it a "new chapter in Chatham's history" and one in which students are excited to be involved.

Brad Stotsky, 23, of Evans City, has mixed emotions about the change. He is a first-year doctoral student in physical therapy,

On the one hand, he said, "I have a little bit of sadness because it differentiates us from the women." But, he continued, "I think it adds a certain amount of status."

Additional Information:

College to university

Becoming a university is a trend for many local colleges. Here's a list of those that have become universities in the past five years:

Chatham -- 2007

Carlow -- 2004

Point Park -- 2003

Seton Hill -- 2002

Robert Morris -- 2002

Source: Tribune-Review research

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