The decision on Thursday by trustees at Chatham University in Pennsylvania to begin enrolling male students was met by protests from both student and alumni at the all-women’s school after 145 years, KDKA-TV reported.
“I’d characterize [graduates’] feelings more of grief at this point,” alumnus Sarah Grey was quoted as saying. “We’ve been all experiencing that anger for quite a while now. We have attempted to communication with the college, to help find a solution and repeatedly have been ignored or dismissed. At this point it’s really about grieving for our college which no longer exists.”
The Pittsburgh-area college, established as the Pennsylvania Female College in 1869, will allow male students to enroll as undergraduates in the fall 2015 semester. School officials argued that the move was necessary to combat a 50 percent enrollment decline over the past six years, which they said could leave the 700-student school with just 320 students by 2019.
“Fewer and fewer high school women are choosing single-sex education,” board of trustees member Jennifer Potter said before the deciding vote. “And those that are have greater financial needs than ever before.”
The vote was described as “overwhelming, but not unanimous” in favor of expanding the admissions process. The board’s decision came after a year of discussion and town hall meetings concerning the issue.
In addition to allowing men to enroll at Chatham, the trustees also allocated $8.5 million toward the creation of a new Women’s Institute, which will reportedly offer a combination of women’s health and gender studies programs and courses on entrepreneurship.
“There is a bright future for Chatham, if we make the right decisions now,” trustee Louise Brown said before the vote.
Watch KDKA’s report, as aired on Thursday, below.