Midway University to accept men into its daytime undergrad programs
Midway University's Board of Trustees voted unanimously in its May 12 meeting to transition the university to a fully coeducational institution and begin admitting men into its daytime undergraduate programs. "Today is yet another historic moment in the life of an institution that has always transformed itself to remain relevant," said Dr. John P. Marsden, president of Midway University. "Our founding mission was to provide young women with access to education at a time when education was mainly available to men. We have fulfilled that mission for 169 years and this decision will ensure that we continue to do so. This is not the first time the institution has transformed itself. We expanded programs and became a bachelor degree granting institution when more career options became available for women. The institution added evening, accelerated degree completion programs, online programs, and graduate programs for men and women in more recent years. Admitting men into our daytime undergraduate programs will allow us to serve a broader audience of traditional college students who will benefit from our programs and the learning environment we have established on campus." Marsden noted that the decision ultimately centered on ensuring the institution remains viable during challenging times for higher education and is not a statement on the important role women's colleges play in education. With fall 2015 enrollment of 1,042 students, one-quarter were enrolled in the women's college, and the residential population was under 200. "It was time to look at options for our traditional undergraduate program," Marsden said. "We see this as an opportunity to overcome existing challenges we have faced with tight budgets, decreased interest in single-sex education, and a national trend in declining enrollments," Marsden said. Many media outlets have reported that only two percent of high school women desire a single-sex education. "We see this change as strengthening our historic mission to educate women by broadening our reach to that 98 percent of young women who would never consider a women's college," said Marsden. The university board and administrative staff discussed this issue at length over many months. They reviewed numerous enrollment trend reports, read national research studies, examined finances, talked with other institutions which moved to coeducation, and deliberated all possible means for the institution's long-term viability prior to making the decision. "I believe the board of trustees' unanimous vote shows our commitment to this institution," said Donna Moore Campbell, board chair and alumna. "We made this decision after careful thought and thorough discussion. We believe this is the best and most prudent decision to ensure the viability of the institution so that we continue to honor our original mission to educate women and serve all students - male and female - for years to come." The University already offers coeducational programs in its evening, online, and graduate programs. This change will only affect the daytime undergraduate program. "With this change we hope to see growth in the area of institutional support," said Marsden. "Our alumni giving rate has been low, and potential donors had expressed their concerns that the institution had not yet become co-ed. We have a wonderful campus, dedicated faculty and staff, and academic programs that are aligned with market needs. We hope to draw support from the community around us and grow our financial donor base with this transition to serve a larger population." "We understand that this change will not come without some disappointment among some of our alums and others outside the university," said Marsden. "However, we cannot continue to preserve something that is unsustainable merely for nostalgic purposes." A recent informal campus survey indicated support for this move among students, faculty, and staff. More things will stay the same than will change under this transition to coeducation in the daytime programs. The institution will remain in its Central Kentucky location; classes will continue to be small, allowing for engaged faculty-student interaction; and the community atmosphere of support will be maintained. "We welcome the opportunity to offer our programs to an audience that we have not been able to serve until now," said Marsden.