Chatham College wants name change to university

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Chatham College wants to become a university.

The women's institution founded in 1869 is the region's latest campus to seek regulatory approval to become a university. Campus officials confirmed the move late yesterday and said an application has been filed with the state Department of Education

Dozens of private colleges, large and small, have done so nationwide, pointing to new graduate degrees, more diverse undergraduate offerings or new locations where they provide instruction.

In recent years, Pittsburgh schools including Point Park, Carlow and Robert Morris universities have made the transition. La Roche College has expressed a similar interest.

Some say it offers a marketing advantage because the name change to some students suggests more varied opportunities.

Officials at Chatham yesterday said it was a logical progression, given the school's move into graduate programs -- 23 master's and three doctoral -- during the last decade and the rollout last year of its online program.

"We wish to be understood for who we truly are. We've expanded our mission," said Chatham President Esther Barazzone. "That's what we're trying to express by this change in status."

The school's all-female undergraduate student body accounts for nearly half of Chatham's 1,500 total enrollment. Women account for the majority of the graduate enrollment, school spokesman Paul Kovach said.

Dr. Barazzone said the institution remains at its core a women's college.

"It's certainly not our plan to change," she said.

She said constituencies including graduates and faculty have been informed and that the response has been favorable.

Officials did not have a target date for making the switch. It will depend on the Education Department's review process, including campus visits to assess the school's application.

Bill Schackner can be reached at or 412-263-1977.


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