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R-MWC Trustees Approve Strategic Plan

The Randolph-Macon Woman’s College Board of Trustees today approved a strategic plan to make the college coed with a global honors emphasis.

9/9/2006 5:28:40 PM


The Randolph-Macon Woman’s College Board of Trustees today approved a strategic plan to make the college coed with a global honors emphasis.

The 25-2 vote comes after nearly three years of intensive data, research, study, and open dialogue with college constituents.

"Our College is a college with rigorous academic standards, an emphasis on liberal arts, a committed faculty, and a strong, respectful community that takes its moral course from our Honor System. Its commitments are to women’s learning and advancement and to education in the singular," said Jolley Christman, president of the Board of Trustees and 1969 alumna, during the announcement of the vote.

"…the Trustees have claimed a future for the College that invites young men to become a part of our community and join with us as we advocate for gender equality and the life more abundant for people around the world," she added.

R-MWC began its strategic planning process in 2003 with the intention of identifying key strategies that would best position the College for the future. Throughout the process, the College has affirmed its commitment to providing an excellent academic program while maintaining its sense of community. The College has evaluated its strengths, analyzed its financial position, researched its markets, solicited input from students, faculty, alumnae, and friends, and studied the experiences of all-women’s colleges that have gone coed and stayed single sex. This summer, those inquiries were completed, and the findings were the basis of the plan considered by the Board of Trustees at this weekend’s special meeting.

The original founder of the College, William Waugh Smith, had a passion for ensuring that "young women may obtain an education equal to that given in our best colleges for young men…" After being rebuffed by the trustees of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., he came to Lynchburg to rally support to build for women "a college of our own."

"Today, 115 years later, it is a different world that has told us that it is time for us to change our course," said Virginia Worden, 1969 alumna and interim president. "For whatever the reasons, insufficient numbers of women recognize the golden opportunity that R-MWC holds out.

"Our trustees today are NOT giving up the mission of this college," Worden said. "They are issuing a call to purpose. Where better than at this college with its dynamic and brilliant faculty, its supportive staff, resourceful students, and phenomenal alumnae — where better, indeed, to find a way to educate women — and men — to develop together the strong leaders and citizens who are so needed in our world."

William Coulter, dean of the college, said the institution has been devoted from the first to high academic standards and a powerful community.

"Those things will continue," he said. "…This change is a challenge to all of us — it’s the biggest challenge to those of us who have been here the longest. But we must learn to see the change as a positive one: the college’s ability to contribute to the state, the nation, and the world will be enhanced, not diminished."

Members of the Board of Trustees, which is made up of more than 70 percent alumnae, attended the announcement in tears.

"This announcement resonates with both loss and hope, tears and anticipation," Christman said. "Pearl Buck, perhaps our most well-known alumna reflected, ‘In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book.’

"Today," Christman said, "we begin to write the next chapter in our history."

The Board of Trustees hopes to vote on a new name for the College at its October meeting. The College will open its doors to men in the fall of 2007.

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations