The Comission welcomed feedback from faculty staff and the local community. The result of the Comission's inclusive efforts is a student body that is very much invested in the final vote made on these proposals by the Board of Trustees.
Votes Cast to Change Multiple Aspects of College
These epochal votes were cast on Sun, Jan. 13, 2013. After delaying their initial vote to further consider the Commission’s findings, the Board of Trustees decided to approve all recommendations presented to them. In doing so, the Board of Trustees plan to upgrade the College’s reputation and create more campus facilities. With increased enrollment a top priority, the Board of Trustees also supports a plan for new programs and a revised curriculum. President Mistick hopes that everyone will understand that the decisions from the Board of Trustees were in the best interest of the college. “If you don’t like co-education, you might like the new programs that we are going to offer. I hope everyone will find something to be excited about,” said Mistick.
The plan for the new curriculum includes programs for health sciences including nursing, physical and occupational therapy and speech pathology. A survey given to current and prospective students in April 2012 showed that these types of programs are in high demand. The health sciences industry is steadily growing nationwide, but these programs also offer students the chance to succeed in their local community. There are a number of hospitals and other facilities in this area that support these degrees. With increased student enrollment, the school will be able to decrease tuition by 17%.
Student Opinions on the Coming Changes
Heather Humwood ’14 agrees that programs and curriculum are the key to Wilson’s survival. “There are not enough programs to support the current students, and there especially will not be enough when men begin enrolling. They constantly talk about low admission numbers, but they never discuss our poor retention rate. Wilson cannot keep the students that are here in the programs because they are lacking in choices as compared to other colleges and universities,” said Humwood.
Although most students will appreciate the benefits that will come with the Board of Trustees vote, there are still some serious concerns about some of the decisions made. The most controversial of these is the decision to become co-educational. Currently, males in the Adult Degree Program (ADP) comprise 11% of the entire student population. This number will increase in the fall of 2013 as enrollment opens for male commuter students. Beginning in the fall of 2014, male students have the opportunity to reside on campus.
Robin Kane ’15 does not support Wilson’s decision to become co-educational. “I like the feeling of an all-girls school. It’s like we are one big sorority. I don’t feel the need to do my hair fancy and I feel comfortable about going to class in my pajama pants if I am running late. I think guys add a whole new element of girls wanting to impress them and vice versa. Not in a bad way, just something that we don’t have to deal with at the moment. I feel comfortable talking about that time of the month, sex and a variety of other topics with my friends at lunch because everyone around us is female and they are talking about the same things. Adding guys takes away some of that comfort,” said Kane. However, Kane thinks that we have to accept things that we don’t like. “I’m confident that even with the changes there will continue to be support for women here, especially in the Women With Children [WWC] program. When I go to fencing and I bring my daughter, Lilli, nobody minds and I think that’s really cool,” said Kane.
A male student, Dale Eberle ‘14, disapproves of the decision to go co-educational. He believes that if the college had done a better job of promoting themselves, advertising and recruiting better in the past, then this approach would be unnecessary. He thinks that Wilson rested on their laurels and assumed that students would automatically just come, and now Wilson is faced with large debts and no way out but to go co-ed. “I believe that the transition is going to be devastating at first. I don’t think that they will get enough new recruits to counter the amount of people who might leave,” said Eberle. “I think the next few years here could be very lean. It is up to them as to how they are going to turn it around. If they market themselves and get involved in local high schools, they might be okay.”
Other students feel that these changes will provide new opportunities for the entire community. Victoria Sheffield ’16 thinks that life at school might be difficult for a while because of the difference of opinions. Despite her worries, she recognizes that these different opinions are part of what makes Wilson special. “I’m looking forward to the increased diversity in our school. It means more people with different experiences, thoughts, opinions and interests coming in,” said Sheffield.