After 85 years as a women’s college, trustees of the University of Saint Joseph voted Wednesday to admit male students in fall 2018.
With the decision Wednesday, the last of New England’s Catholic women-only colleges, which once numberedmore than a dozen, and the last of Connecticut’s all-women colleges will disappear.
“This is an incredibly exciting day for us at St. Joe’s. I am so grateful to have a board of trustees that is really forward thinking,” said universityPresident Rhona Free at a news conference at the college. “They have a great respect for the past, they have a great respect for our mission but they realize that the future is what’s important for us and we have wonderful opportunities available to the broadest group of students possible.”
Free said the decision was made from a position of “financial strength,” at a time when overall enrollment, including graduate programs, is up and the university is running a surplus. The school had considered and rejected admitting males two previous times.
“We don’t have to do this for financial reasons,” Free said earlier this month. “Really the idea is that we will do this if going coed allows us to provide a broader range of opportunities for undergraduates.”
However, Free said there is definitely room for more students in the undergraduate program, where enrollment has been down slightly this year and about 30 dormitory rooms have been vacant for several years.
The college expects to admit 50 male undergraduates in fall 2018. She said an athletic program will begin that first year, starting with soccer and basketball teams. Recruiting athletes for the fall of 2018 will begin this fall.
In an email to staff and students, Free said that “the demographics were also clearly in support of admitting all students to the undergraduate program. Less than 1 percent of female college students attend a women’s college and only…