Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary becomes "University"

(6/7) Today, one of America’s oldest Catholic colleges became its newest university.

In a unanimous vote of its 33-member Board of Trustees, Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary officially became Mount St. Mary’s University. The change in designation is effective immediately.

"As we prepare for our third century of service, I believe this designation change will serve us well," said Mount President Thomas H. Powell. "We are a university by any measure. The percentage of our faculty with terminal degrees (89 percent) exceeds recognized standards. We are fully engaged in graduate programs, and our three main components: the college, the seminary and the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes, will benefit greatly from a name that better unifies us as one.

"Additionally, we compete for students and faculty in a market in which many colleges are changing their designations to ‘university.’ If we are to stay competitive, we must do the same," Powell added.

Mount St. Mary’s offers five post-graduate degrees and has four campuses. Graduate students make up 27 percent, or nearly 1/3 of the student body. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching already classifies Mount St. Mary’s as a Master’s I College/University, which is defined as "an institution, typically offering a wide range of baccalaureate programs that is committed to graduate education through the master's degree."

Recent research by George Dehne & Associates, a higher education marketing and strategic planning firm in Old Saybrook, Conn., indicates that more than two thirds of prospective students said they planned to enroll in a public or private university-not college. Dehne found that universities were more highly regarded than colleges by employers and graduate schools and more likely to be credited with having better students, a better social life, greater diversity of students, greater prestige and stronger science programs.

To support the change in designation, the Mount will develop new institutional logo and identity programs—including those for athletics—that will debut in the coming months. The Mount will also undertake an aggressive marketing, advertising and branding campaign to capitalize on the excitement surrounding its change to "university" status.

Founded in 1808, the Mount’s 1,400-acre campus in Emmitsburg, Md., is home to more than 1,400 undergraduate students, as well as Mount St. Mary’s Seminary—the second-largest seminary in the country—preparing more than 150 men for the priesthood; and the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes, America’s oldest replica of the Lourdes shrine in France. The mountain shrine attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year from all over the world.

In addition, the Mount offers accelerated and weekend bachelor’s degree completion programs, as well as master’s degree programs in business and education, through its Division of Continuing Studies—with campuses in Frederick, Hagerstown and Westminster.

In the months leading up to the decision, the Mount solicited input and discussions across campus, and with alumni and community groups. The change in designation received endorsements by the National Alumni Board, as well as the administrative and athletic staffs. Many members of the local community also expressed support for this change.

Mount St. Mary’s is exempt under a charter granted by the Maryland General Assembly from Maryland Higher Education Commission approval of institutional name changes.

"The board of trustees and administration would like Mount St. Mary’s enrollment and programs to continue to grow incrementally, with enrollment reaching 2,000 undergraduate students in 2015," Powell said. "Yet measures will be made to ensure that students continue to attend small classes and receive personal attention from their professors."

Additionally, other than moderate price increases like those that have characterized Mount St. Mary’s in the past, no significant increase in tuition will occur as a result of the designation change. Mount St. Mary’s remains committed to offering a quality education at an affordable cost.

Read other stories on Mt. St. Mary