Chatham News

Chatham University’s Board of Trustees Approves Academic Reorganization and Admission of Men at the Undergraduate Level Beginning Fall 2015

New Chatham University Women’s Institute To Be Established With $8.5 Million Dollars In Funding

Chatham University’s Board of Trustees voted today in approval of a resolution that will set in motion a three-part transformation to open Chatham’s high-quality undergraduate education to more students, enhance the University’s ability to meet the educational needs of its students and the region for the future, and honor our 145-year commitment to advancing the causes of women.

The resolution, in part, states:

The Board of Trustees hereby approves: (1) the reorganization of Chatham University by academic units within vertically integrated Colleges and Schools; (2) the implementation of coeducation within all Chatham University Colleges and Schools; and (3) alongside the commitment to each student who will attend Chatham University, the creation of structures and programs to preserve Chatham University’s commitment to women’s education and leadership.


“Today as always, what has sustained and inspired this institution, are creative, strategic and progressive ideas to reinvigorate undergraduate education and make it more relevant to today’s times and students,” states Dr. Esther Barazzone, President of Chatham University. “Our thinking has been inspired by a more contemporary interpretation of Chatham’s mission in serving society’s educational needs while also honoring our commitment to women with the establishment of our Chatham University Women’s Institute to address critical challenges for women in the areas of business, politics, health, and leadership development.”

Background on the Decision
Twenty years ago, Chatham College was a struggling, small, liberal arts undergraduate women’s college with only approximately 500 undergraduate students. To extend Chatham’s educational mission, leaders added graduate and online programs for men and women, and committed to providing supplemental financial support from the rest of the university’s operating budget to help support the women’s college. This decision ensured the women’s college was able to continue for the past two decades even as the number of women’s colleges declined and the university’s supplemental support grew to its current level of $5 million per year.

Today, Chatham has transformed into a comprehensive University that provides high-quality education to more than 2,000 students across 60 undergraduate and graduate programs. Chatham has risen 19 spots over the past four years in the US News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings; emerged as a leader in providing graduate-level education especially in health sciences and sustainability; maintains an operating budget of over $50 million per year; has doubled the endowment value to over $75 million; and has expanded from 32 acres to three campus locations totaling over 425 acres with the opening of the internationally, award-winning sustainability-focused Eden Hall Campus in Richland, PA.

Even with growth across other university programs and significant university investment and resources dedicated to the women’s college, the undergraduate women’s college enrollment has declined since 2008 from a high of 702 to 543 FTE (full-time equivalent) students today. This trend is driven by the lingering impact of the 2008 recession on private and public colleges and universities, the decline in high-school age students, and in the market for single-sex institutions where a very small number of women express an interest in, and ultimately attend, smaller women’s colleges.

Standard & Poor’s noted these trends in their 2014 report, “Many Factors Burden The U.S. Higher Education Sector In 2014” on the higher education sector stating:

  • The sector faces growing challenges on several fronts that will require institutional change for many.
  • We expect the next few years to be particularly difficult for law schools, single-sex institutions, and small regional religious institutions.

“This decision allows Chatham University to address the enrollment challenges facing the undergraduate women’s college by opening Chatham’s high quality undergraduate education to a larger population of potential women and men while also reorganizing to take advantage of Chatham’s strengths in key academic areas,” states Jennifer Potter, Class of ’66 and Chair of Chatham’s Board of Trustees. “By acting now, we put in place a plan that will ensure the continued evolution, growth and financial strength of the University.”

Establishment of Chatham University Women’s Institute with $8.5 Million Funding
Chatham University was founded in 1869 to address one of the great social inequalities of that time: lack of access to quality higher education for women. While access to higher education is no longer a central issue for the majority of women today, women still face social inequality and challenges on many fronts, including in business and the workforce, in government and politics, and in areas of health and wellness.

In response to these pressing contemporary issues and in keeping with Chatham University’s historic commitment to women, Chatham will establish the Chatham University Women’s Institute in 2014 as part of a $8.5 million funding initiative comprising various endowments, current funds and $2 million in newly raised commitments in support of the Institute and its mission.

The mission of the Institute is to help overcome and eradicate the social inequalities facing women today, and to advance women’s excellence through education, research and outreach in areas of modern-day social concerns.

The Women’s Institute will bring together Chatham’s existing Centers – the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship and Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics – along with a new, Women and Health program and Chatham’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. The ability to evolve and expand into other strategic and critical focus areas in the future is an integral part of the Institute. In addition to the current offerings of existing Centers, the Institute will also coordinate the following areas:

  • Housing: An all-women residence hall with focus on women’s leadership.
  • Academics: Courses focused on women’s leadership and gender issues (mandatory for the those in the residence hall and leadership certificate program).
  • Leadership: A women’s leadership certificate program that, along with coursework, could require an international experience with women’s organizations in the developing world and an internship with a Pittsburgh-area women’s organization.
  • Activities: New campus and community programming such as a lecture series plus Chatham College for Women traditions.
  • Research: Sponsoring of faculty, student and outside research.
  • Mentoring: Program for students to work with Chatham alumnae and other women leaders in the community.
  • STEM: Coordination of Chatham’s Women in STEM initiative and scholarship program.
  • Faculty: Training and programs in creating a gender-balanced classroom.

Academic Reorganization
With 70% of Chatham’s enrollment being at the graduate or continuing education level, Chatham will reorganize the university into academically aligned Colleges and Schools across university specialization areas such as the health sciences, business and communication, the arts and sciences, and sustainability (the Falk School of Sustainability currently exists today). This will allow Chatham’s undergraduate and graduate programs to better collaborate, share resources and provide a stronger academic experience for all students.

Board, administration and faculty task forces will begin the review of academic programs and organization starting in May of 2014 with a targeted completion before the 2015 academic year.

Athletics and Programs
In addition to the reorganization, prospective undergraduate women and men will also be able to take advantage of existing and new programs built for the needs of today’s students, including:

  • Nine Division III women’s sports and the addition of three new men’s sports teams: basketball, volleyball, and swimming and diving in the 2015 academic year.
  • Access to Pathways to Nursing, a unique partnership with UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing that allows a student to be a licensed RN in three years and finish the last year of the bachelor’s program online while working as a nurse.
  • Earning a bachelor’s and master’s in five years with Chatham’s Accelerated Graduate Program.
  • An innovative 3-year Interior Architecture program including a one-of-a-kind learning partnership with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.
  • An educational immersion experience in a different country each year through Chatham’s award-winning Global Focus program and the ability to travel as part of Chatham Abroad.
  • Up to $10,000 in additional scholarships for women interested in pursuing science careers through Chatham’s S-STEM Program.

“This is about more than just facing the issue of broadening the audience for our excellent education through coeducation. It is also about examining the challenges of contemporary higher education such as what we are doing, why we are doing it, how we are doing it, and how we can better meet our goal to serve society, especially in providing the greatest access and quality,” said President Barazzone. “We will examine these issues along with issues of coeducation and prepare to face the future imaginatively and creatively.”