Heidelberg to become university - again

Heidelberg College is coming full circle - again. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously Saturday to return the name of the institution to Heidelberg University. The change will become fully effective at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year.
 
As Heidelberg continues to move forward with expansion of programs and facilities, the name change will more accurately reflect its vision and mission, and allow Heidelberg to become stronger, not different, said board chair and '67 alumna Sondra G. Libman.
 
“This decision was made with thoughtful deliberation over the course of many months. The transition to Heidelberg University indicates a change in our name, but our mission will remain the same,” Libman said.
 
“We are taking a step forward. We are not sacrificing our traditional liberal arts heritage, which is at the core of our identity. We will remain a tight-knit community of learners that promotes and nurtures intellectual, personal and professional development,” she said.
 
Heidelberg College was founded in 1850 by the German Reformed Church. In 1889, the institution became Heidelberg University, a name which remained until it was renamed Heidelberg College in 1926.
 
“Most importantly, we will retain what we've always known as the Heidelberg culture,” said Interim President James A. Troha. “The friendly and caring atmosphere of the campus and the emotional experience students have with Heidelberg is who we are and what we will continue to support.”
 
“We want to be what we've always been - and more,” Troha said. “We will remain as committed as ever to our liberal arts emphasis as we look to address the needs of students of the 21st century.”
 
In considering the change from college to university, the board and senior administrators addressed such issues as competition and trends in higher education and perception of “university” among prospective students in the U.S. and abroad.
 
Higher education experts say the trend of colleges taking advantage of the prestige and recognition that many believe come with being a university hasn't slowed in recent years. Since 1990, nearly 150 public and private four-year colleges have changed to university, according to a study in The Review of Higher Education.
 
But Heidelberg's name change isn't about being trendy, said Thandabantu Maceo, vice president for enrollment and marketing. In recent months, Heidelberg has begun the transition to create “schools” - the new School of Business is the first - that is a clear indication that the name “university” more accurately reflects its curricular offerings, he said. With its traditional liberal arts core, the institution has focused on a blend of pre-professional program offerings, such as criminal justice.
 
Typically, universities have more than one campus, offer both graduate and undergraduate coursework, and serve a diverse mix of traditional and non-traditional students. With its Arrowhead Park campus in Maumee and its new Heidelberg Academic and Sporting Academy in Liege, Belgium, a growing graduate education program and new majors being developed, Heidelberg aligns neatly with these criteria.
 
Surveys of college-bound high school students indicates about two-thirds planned to enroll in a public or private university, not college. Of the top 12 institutions with which Heidelberg competes for students, 10 are universities.
 
“The name change will allow us to appeal to a broader audience, and in our market, that could translate to a significant competitive advantage,” Maceo said.
 
Additionally, the international perception of “university” vs. “college” is more favorably recognized by the international student population Heidelberg is actively recruiting. “As a university, we are in a better position to appeal to them and be relevant to them,” Maceo said.
 
“It seems the right thing to do at the right time from many perspectives.”
 
As Heidelberg studied the idea of a name change, the college enlisted the services of Carnegie Communications, a Boston-based marketing consulting firm to poll various “constituent” groups - students, parents, faculty and staff, alumni and current students - to determine their interest in a name change. Response from the groups was positive, and most supported the name change, Maceo said.
 
While the campus will continue to operate as Heidelberg College for the few months, a task force has begun work to manage the transition to the new name. The task force studied the experiences of institutions similar to Heidelberg which had recently changed from college to university. In the coming months, Heidelberg University will begin to appear around campus as the name change is phased in.

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Oct 25, 2008