Introducing Elmhurst University, the new face of Elmhurst College
October 15, 2020
Students are not the only ones who experienced quarantine makeovers this summer. Elmhurst College officially transitioned into a university. The decision was approved by the Board of Trustees and has been effective since July 1, 2020.
Founded in 1871, the small, private liberal arts college in Elmhurst transformed into Elmhurst University. The university has spent nearly 150 years preparing students for successful careers. The 35 member Board of Trustees led by President Troy D. VanAken made the decision for this change on June 15, 2019. While the name changed, the identity of Elmhurst and its core values will remain untouched.
“While this is certainly a new and significant development, it is the result of an ongoing, collaborative process,” VanAken said in the Elmhurst EDU. “It reflects discussions that have been taking place for some time regarding how we should celebrate who we are, what we have become, and what we need to be in order to best serve our students for generations to come.”
The change was initiated because the school was experiencing record enrollment and more fundraising. The change also honors the wish of former president H. Richard Niebuhr. The transformation into a university status is more widely understood and beneficial for international students. Many countries use the term “college” as an equivalent to high school education, so the University title helps establish clarity for foreign students.
“I believe the change was made for two reasons,” Head Wrestling, Coach Steve Marianetti, said. “First, Elmhurst has greatly expanded their graduate programs and that is a major criteria for being a University. Second, it’s an issue of branding for the U.S. and abroad… the term “college” in the rest of the world is not understood.”
Not only does the change bring clarity to international students but also to our own townspeople. Changing to a University gives people the understanding that Elmhurst’s university is more than just a two-year community college. They currently offer over 70 undergraduate programs and 20 master’s degree and graduate certificate programs.
“There are people that don’t know we offer bachelor’s degrees and there’s a whole bunch of people that don’t know we offer masters,” vice president of admissions Tim Ricordatti said in the Daily Herald.
While the change was widely supported by the board, there were some staff members who were opposed to the idea because they wished to maintain the student experience related to the “college” label. Elmhurst was originally a German evangelical seminary and has evolved into a liberal arts school with professional studies. The faculty wanted to uphold the personalized education students received along with the opportunities for faculty-student research. However, other members in favor of the transition made sure to stress the importance of maintaining the core ideas of the school.
“We are not going to change our fundamental values going forward,” Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and dean of faculty, Connie Mixon said in the Daily Herald. “I know that had been a concern of some people, that the name change was some type of precursor to making a radical change in the college and what it stands for, and that’s just not going to happen.