Reflections from the President

I write today to share more of my thinking with you after the decision at the recent Board meeting to take a vote later this spring on whether to become coeducational.  The reasons are many, though primarily twofold:  the difficulty of reaching a critical mass of students in contemporary times; and the philosophical question of whether educating women alone continues to be the best way to give women a quality education in the 21st century.

The issue of critical mass hinges around the number of students we believe essential to create an academic environment that is intellectually stimulating, varied, and provides enough financial support for the necessary elements of a quality education.  Some of those elements include a sufficient number of well qualified and competitively compensated full time faculty, and thriving co- curricular and extra-curricular programs.

We, along with many other women’s colleges, seem not to be able to reach or sustain those numbers, 800-1000 in our case, especially in current economic and educational circumstances.  Standard & Poor’s, an important evaluator of current economic trends, recently wrote:

  • “We expect the next few years to be particularly difficult for law schools, single-sex institutions and small regional religious institutions.”
  • “The impact of affordability concerns on financial operations is greater for small private institutions.”

Their warning certainly seems already to be true for women’s colleges, with a large majority showing declining enrollments over the recent years. Further, an increasing number of students are attending four-year public institutions, attracted by their lower tuitions, as well as community colleges which help them cost-average and thus lower the cost of four years of a baccalaureate degree even more.

It seems that only if times are very good can we do better with recruitment–especially when offering non career-oriented education in a single sex environment. (We at Chatham believe deeply in the importance of liberal arts in undergraduate education, but the popularity of liberal arts degrees are only slightly more attractive to the college bound high school students than are women’s colleges, which are said to appeal to 4% and 2% of high school students—girls—respectively.)

Our women’s college enrollment numbers have very much paralleled the economy: in the early nineties we were just above 500 students.  Our numbers climbed to nearly 750 in 2008, but began to decline with the economy after the “hit” of 2008 affected families as well as institutions.  We project that we will reach untenable numbers in very few years under current circumstances.   If we permit our enrollments to continue to decline in this fashion, we believe we will no longer be able to provide a quality education worthy of the talented and motivated students we recruit.

As we have mulled over the issue of numbers and affordability of our women’s college, we have inevitably asked ourselves whether there is another, or even a better, way of delivering on our mission of providing women quality education and appropriate leadership preparation in the 21st century and beyond. Even aside from this question of the affordability of this type of program for women’s education, is this the very best way or the only way to educate young women effectively for the future, for fulfilling lives of accomplishment and leadership?

There is undeniable value in our model of women studying alone, as has been reinforced over the last weeks I have been talking with faculty about ways we might be able to innovate academically and enhance our enrollments. But certain other facts continue to arise to question whether this is still the best possible, or the only, way to educate women now.  Unlike in 1869 when we were founded and few institutions educated women, women are now fully admitted to all institutions (except the three remaining men’s colleges), and are in the majority in most coeducational institutions. Women are in the majority in many educational arenas such as law and medicine.  Our own recent $650,000 National Science Foundation grant for women’s STEM education is an example of the federal government’s commitment to women even in these hard economic times.

The education of women was a social justice question in the 1860’s and now we must ask what this means today?  Is it only a commitment to women, or to social justice based on commitment to access, for all races and ethnicities, for the poor, and indeed, for students of both genders all of whom could benefit from the expertise we have throughout our institution in the implications of gender for education?

It is undeniable that there is still a significant gap between men and women, but isn’t it is more of a gap in leadership opportunities, and accomplishment than of access or the effectiveness of education?   Coeducational institutions such as Harvard in its Business School recognize that access alone does not guarantee equality for women, and runs special programs within its coeducational environment, rather than separates the women for education.  Isn’t it time for us to consider that as a possible model for ourselves?

Our message of needing to educate women alone to ensure their successful futures is not sought out by most young women.  Only 2% seek out this kind of education.  Do they not have a right to their opinion on how they will be educated?  Should we not adapt our message so that they can hear it by no longer requiring them to study with women only, but to women and men alongside one another in the classroom over the lesson of gender equality from which both can profit?

I have been president of Chatham for more than twenty years, and in that time we have worked mightily to achieve a critical mass of women within the current environment and program offerings we have which are based on the separation of women in undergraduate education. But we have never accomplished our goal of 800-1000 undergraduates. We have added graduate programs, which, while intrinsically valuable and excellent, also added to the attractiveness of the women’s college. We have marketed and marketed, and in the last five years spent twice as much on marketing and selling our women’s college than all our other programs combined.  Despite our best efforts, we have never accomplished our goal of 800-1000 undergraduates, and our other programs enroll almost three times the number of students in the women’s college.

Since October the long-term undergraduate faculty have engaged with the academic leadership and me in an attempt to re-imagine programmatic offerings, or to create parallel coeducational structures that would bring more students in but keep the women’s college as it is.  However, we found no solutions that could do that because of our core definition of the women’s college as something that rested on women being alone in the classroom, or at least in the majority of classrooms.  We could not find a means of achieving the desired critical mass of women for our college, in this environment, in this economy.

We weighed other ideas, including becoming an all-transfer college, to help students smooth out their educational costs by first going to community college, and we weighed abandoning the undergraduate mission altogether.

However, we believe that as an institution that had educated women successfully so long, we know some special things about gender and education that will serve not only women but also men in a coeducational undergraduate environment. Some of us have come to believe that that is the path we should pursue. Many also believe that the message of contemporary feminism has changed greatly from that of earlier generations and that the awareness of the meaning of gender cannot be pursued by studying the issues of women alone, or by educating women alone.

We thought about the role of our history and expertise in a world in which women have access to greater educational opportunities, but in which a persistent gender gap exists in salary, board access, and senior management/leadership roles.  We have seen great response within the Chatham community as well as in the larger Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania community to our outreach centers for Women and Politics, and Women and Entrepreneurship.

We have asked whether we could further develop our knowledge and practice of women in leadership–and all the other issues of gender equity– in a way that serves not just undergraduates, but all the students of the University as well as the larger public.  This would be akin to the ways that our focus on international outreach has been adopted by some of our graduate programs and the mission to sustainability has now permeated the whole campus, at both graduate and undergraduate levels.

We in the administrative leadership have been excited by this vision, and proposed to the Board of Trustees that we:

  • Make all undergraduate classrooms coeducational unless there is some compelling educational reason not to do so (as in the case of Keohane’s effort at Duke to occasionally educate women in certain quantitative or scientific courses separately)
  • That we create something perhaps called the “Chatham institute for Leadership and Gender Equality” where we coordinate our outreach centers, invite more visiting scholars and leaders, develop and offer an exceptional program and certificate in gender aware leadership available to both men and women, that is available to all our educational community, graduate and undergraduate as well as the external public.  This move we would do wholeheartedly and with added investment would keep us in line with our traditional mission to advance women, but in a way more aligned with contemporary theories of equality and needs of women–as well as of men.

Concurrently with this we would propose to reorganize the university into more traditional schools, organizing around academic disciplines rather than types of students (women, graduate, adult and online which we did to protect the women’s college but have found increasingly difficult as nursing, for example , is separated from other health sciences).This is still to be decided and would be done with faculty, but it would mean, for example, in addition to the Falk School of Sustainability which is already organized disciplinarily, the creation of a School of Health Sciences (where we already have 750 of our 2100), possibly a School Of Business and Communications, and a School of Arts and Sciences (where for example we already have an undergraduate  and graduate  Biology program as well as Creative Writing at both levels ) and a unit for continuing and online education that serves all schools.  By this means we will continue to serve the liberal arts, but also give our undergraduates more applied degrees in addition to the liberal arts and more access to our stellar graduate programs.  We could choose also to create an Honors program within Arts and Sciences to preserve the tutorial if it were desired.

With this vision and broad educational concept, the Board of Trustees has endorsed the idea of coeducation, pending input from our community.  Those of us who have been working on these ideas are excited by their potential not only to create critical mass in the undergraduate program but to serve the needs of women appropriately in 2014 and beyond, while making the whole institution stronger and better.  Chatham has made great steps forward in recent years, including many steps up in US News and World Report.  We, nonetheless, need to continue to change, adapt, and improve.

This morning as I finished “penning” this, I read Thomas Friedman’s column about Silicon Valley, described as refreshing for its innovation, and different from Washington where everything is “off the table” (at least until after the elections). In contrast, he says, to Silicon Valley where entrepreneurs awaken daily asking “What are the biggest trends in the world, and how do I best invent/ reinvent my business to thrive from them?  ‘They are fixated on creating abundance, not re-dividing scarcity, and they respect no limits on imagination, no idea here is “off the table.’”

We must have this spirit as we seek to advance Chatham by achieving critical mass in our undergraduate programs, by continuing to serve women and helping address one of our most pressing national challenges–too few students, women and men, completing even Associates degrees.  I challenge you to “leave everything on the table”, respond to the ideas I have laid before you, and join in reinventing the way we achieve this vital set of goals. I look forward to engaging with you in coming weeks and beyond as we all work together to serve all our students and the larger community for whose service we exist.


Esther L. Barazzone, Ph.D.
February 18, 2014

  1. Kim Erdner says:

    I was part of the great debate in the late 80’s early 90’s, and while I saw the benefits of an all women’s education, never felt that in this day and age it was necessary to maintain all women in order to support women in education. I chose Chatham because of the size, the campus, and the course offerings. I also felt that the application at the time reflected the potential challenges while showing creativity — there were several essay topics that were requirements at that time.
    I did not choose Chatham because it was single sex. In fact, I almost disqualified it at the time for that reason. I decided to give the all women’s education a chance and was happy that I did.
    However, I feel that Chatham can excel if it maintains a high standard of courses and faculty. Whether this is done with males in the classroom shouldn’t make a difference overall.
    As long as women are encouraged and able to give voice in the classroom and are not intimidated to take chances, Chatham will succeed in keeping its mission of educating women.

    Kim Erdner class of ’92

  2. I support opening the doors of Chatham . An all women’s campus was unique but to insure enrollment. Believe it can change. I also want to make a very strong plea that the school serious consider adding an MFA in Studio Art or an equivalent. I am a professional artist and I would certain seek an MFA at Chatham. I believe this is an area in which Pittsburgh is lacking. Only CMU offers an MFA and this is shocking as well as disheartening for the art community here. There is an abundance of MFA writing programs and a slew of new media programs but Pittsburgh come up short in traditional accelerated Fine Art. If Chatham offered an MFA I am sure you would see a spike in admissions as well as gain public exposure.

    I would be more than happy to talk to anyone at the school who is interested in pursuing this.
    LEX Covato

  3. Catharine Molnar says:

    If Friedman recommends “They are fixated on creating abundance, not re-dividing scarcity”, why not introduce two-year trade programs for women that seamlessly integrate into four-year degrees at Chatham?

  4. Lauren says:

    I’m not sure that opening up Chatham to being a co-ed undergraduate school would really bring the enrollment increase that you’re looking for. But you know what would increase enrollment? Lowering the exorbitant tuition fees so that the women who already wish to attend can actually afford to without going into six figure debt. (You sort of gloss over that part while mentioning the economy.)

    Chatham should do all that it can to keep its historical women’s college open, and open to women only – in my opinion, this has nothing to do with a conservative or feminist agenda, but everything to do with this place as a part of history. And I think the history of the women alumni speaks for itself.

  5. If

    If Chatham College goes coed, as appears inevitable, we hope that somewhere a women’s college will spring up to replace it. Somewhere that can clearly understand the huge impact
    of a student’s concentration on learning that will move from primary to secondary. Having transferred from a coed college to Chatham I am keenly aware of the difference in the daily
    environment in and out of classes. Nice but not accomodative to serious learning. I believe that the uniqueness and richness of the single sex learning environment is worth the
    potential of size.

  6. Alexis Macklin says:

    I chose Chatham because it provided a female-focused educational experience. Right now, the University is uniquely positioned to advance women in STEM fields and should commit itself to that mission. I believe that this can be accomplished with or without men in the classroom. Several of the graduate programs – which are co-educational – are currently doing just that. If the undergraduate programs follow suit – it sounds like a winning combination to me.

    Also, I want to publicly say a big thank you to Esther Barazzone. She saved Chatham from closing its doors more than 20 years ago – and has devoted her life’s work to creating a unique niche for the University in the growing areas of sustainability and design. I fully support whatever decision she and the board make regarding the next steps for Chatham.

  7. Claudia Aikens says:

    I was against it the last time you asked, but it is a different world today. I am against trade school programs entirely. I worry that they will never result in jobs as promised. They seem to be based on tricks and unsound information. But admitting men will open new market potential, which seems to be the main ingredient which is lacking. We are strong enough to weather this, and different isn’t always bad. We will have the opportunity to wipe out all vestiges of misogyny in them and all they touch in the future. Not an easy job, but we are up to it!
    Claudia Aikens 1976

  8. Chatham Student says:

    To be a “True Microcosm” of the world that Chatham strives to be, you HAVE to enroll males. I do not agree with the posts above about having an all women’s college. The positives that you see, fit your agenda. You are cherry picking reasons to have an all girls school, and failing to mention the other side. I do agree that enrolling young men here, will change the environment, and some feminist toes will be stepped on either intentionally or by accident. Is that change for the better or worse? Your agenda/point of view will determine whether the change is good, or not. To be politically correct, Chatham should enroll men to avoid being hypocritical. In my personal opinion, there is no place for undergraduate men here at the moment, physically, mentally, or socially.

  9. Chatham Student says:

    If keeping it by the roots of history as you stated, you could apply that theory to Patriarchal avenues, segregation, and a lot of other roads you do not want to go down… for the sake of ‘history’

  10. Shannon McNamara says:

    Dear President Barrazone and Chatham University Board of Trustees,

    I emphatically oppose the proposal that Chatham University’s undergraduate program become a co-educational institution.

    The Chatham Feedback blog states that females now exceed males in terms of sheer numbers comprising undergraduate populations nationally. As though to say that the fight for gender equality has been won and we can all pack it up and call it a day, whilst patting ourselves on the back for a job well done. I would suggest, however, that women being admitted into co-educational institutions to bring about diversity in those contexts does not eradicate the need for single sex institutions. Single-sex educational institutions grant young women the invaluable separate space to learn, grow, and achieve without limits. This experience, in turn, permits graduates of women’s colleges the opportunity to do more to create actual, active equality in their lives and worlds. It’s not as simple as occupying a chair that someone can point to and say “look, we have diversity in the classroom.”

    Furthermore, I already question the objectivity of a study that is being solicited/conducted by a Board that already seems to have expressed a pre-determined agenda and a foregone resolution. What factors will be considered? Who is conducting the study? By whom will the final determination be made? Will economic value be countervailed by other considerations, and weighed against values that are not monetary, but far more consequential?

    And of Chatham University’s financial woes: In October of 2013, Chatham received the largest gift in the university’s 144-year history when the Sigo Falk Foundation closed and enriched the University to the tune of $15 million dollars. Whereas other higher educational institutions have weathered the recession, I find it hard to believe that, given the large endowment, this is a case of insufficient funds. Rather, it seems this is a clear case of mismanaged funds. Instead of over-extending the finances of the University to expand to include a 388-acre suburban campus, why not expend those resources on recruitment of female undergraduate students and on strengthening the critical institution of all-female colleges for future generations?

    I assure you, no study is needed. You cite the discouraging statistics yourself, “the number of women’s colleges has declined from 300 institutions in 1960 to currently less than 50.” Now more than ever, the need for single-sex undergraduate education to continue to be made available to young women seeking higher education. There are so many young women who are legacies of women who themselves attended and continue to advocate for the value of single-sex education – with fewer institutions than ever to accommodate them, it seems that Chatham could target such a demographic to increase enrollment rather than lament the fact that undergraduate enrollment is dwindling while focusing ever-more resources and attention on the co-educational graduate studies program. It seems exceptionally defeatist to simply suggest that the enterprise of single sex education is somehow obsolete. And frankly, it’s untrue.

    Here’s just a few of the reasons why, according to Barnard College:
    • “students at women’s colleges are more likely to study math or science, graduating with majors in math and/or the sciences at 1.5 times the rate of women at co-ed institutions”
    • “Graduates of women’s colleges constitute only about 2 percent of all female college graduates. But they make up nearly 20 percent of women in Congress and 30 percent of a recent Business Week list of rising women stars in corporate America.”
    • “In comparison to students at co-ed colleges, students at women’s colleges participate more often (both in and out of class). They report higher levels of academic challenge and more interaction with faculty. They have more opportunities for leadership and access to female mentors and role models. Their campus environments are more likely to encourage diverse interactions and promote a multifaceted understanding of diversity. And they develop higher degrees of self-understanding and self-confidence.”

    I’ll bet Chatham’s website houses similar statistics. Maybe the Board and Dr. Barrazone would do well to review them before they sound the death-knell of a 144-year tradition of single-sex education at Chatham.

    It is of utmost importance that the Board not eliminate this opportunity for young women now, and in the future.

    Shannon McNamara
    Class of 2000

  11. C. says:

    Since the announcement, I’ve tried to keep an open mind and reflect on the reasons why I attended Chatham, why I chose to stay there when so many left after the first year (ah, the last nasty round of co-ed discussions), why I recommend Chatham to friends and family, and their responses.

    All of the colleges I explored my senior year were very similar — liberal arts, beautiful campus, great academics, welcoming, etc. But Chatham stood out for two reasons: women’s college and the tutorial. Under the proposed changes (yes, I picked up on the tutorial comment), Chatham would no longer stand out from the group and I’m not so sure it would be my pick.

    Now for feedback from potential students. I have seriously promoted Chatham to several high school juniors and seniors with little success. The reason Chatham was not on their short list is money. Not because it was a women’s college. But money.

  12. C. L. Hilbert says:

    Once, when I voiced my concerns about limited course offerings, my email somehow (bouncing up the forward chain, I guess) eventually landed in Dr. Barazzone’s inbox. She replied to my suggestion (widening the course offering) to say that she was sorry I didn’t like the selection of classes Chatham offered, but that there were many other colleges in Pittsburgh and perhaps I’d be better suited in one of those. (For context, I was one semester away from completing my BA, with nearly straight As. I was not exactly a “problem student.”)

    So I have to say that I doubt the real problem here has anything to do with whether or not Chatham goes co-ed. I think it has everything to do with slim course offerings and upper management’s attitude of “if you don’t like it, leave.”

  13. Chatham Student says:

    To be a “True Microcosm” of the world that Chatham strives to be, you HAVE to enroll males. I do not agree with the posts above about having an all women’s college. The positives that you see, fit your agenda. You are cherry picking reasons to have an all girls school, and failing to mention the other side. I do agree that enrolling young men here, will change the environment, and some feminist toes will be stepped on either intentionally or by accident. Is that change for the better or worse? Your agenda/point of view will determine whether the change is good, or not. To be politically correct, Chatham should enroll men to avoid being hypocritical. In my personal opinion, there is no place for undergraduate men here at the moment, physically, mentally, or socially.

    I reposted this, because apparently you did not read it. So I just want to bring it to your attention.

    If you stay with ‘tradition’ or ‘historical roots’, one could say the same for women at college in general. Or go the road on minorities, as I stated in reply to someone else. Your evidence alone of:

    “I assure you, no study is needed. You cite the discouraging statistics yourself, “the number of women’s colleges has declined from 300 institutions in 1960 to currently less than 50.” Now more than ever, the need for single-sex undergraduate education to continue to be made available to young women seeking higher education.”

    …shows that indeed there is a trend in America, of breaking down the gender barriers in education, and how I interpret it, a genuine realization that single-sex education arguments are a dying concern. This is similarly grounded if I may make an analogy, for the arguments supporting the continuation of Male Fraternities in colleges. The people who see through it, agree they don’t work like they used to. The people for it, are die hard frat boys.

  14. Jeanne Marie Dauray says:

    Given the loss of quality faculty Chatham has had, I would have to say that your comments likely apply across the board. I have overheard the conversations, the frustrations over the past few years from other students and faculty.

  15. Chatham Alum says:

    I am strongly opposed to Chatham becoming a coed undergraduate institution for myriad reasons, but I am primarily troubled by this “feedback” approach. I would think that if the feedback of empowered, World Ready alumnae were truly valued, this topic would have been brought to our attention prior to Tuesday. Current Chatham students and alumnae have quickly and zealously responded to the proposal of an entirely coed university, and I feel that we were cheated out of a timely chance for our input, particularly given that this decision is to be made by June. The lack of transparency (i.e. an email about a mysterious “All Campus Meeting”) and urgency with which this was brought to light makes me very doubtful that a decision has not already been made. However, we all know better than to never underestimate the power and influence of Chatham women, which is the only reason I haven’t given up hope that asking for our feedback was not an afterthought.

  16. Erin Dowd Chatham Student says:

    I transferred to Chatham from a co-ed university because I wanted an unique education experience. I was sold a dream of women empowerment backed up by statistics and testimonials. I chose Chatham because I knew attending an all women college would allow me to reach my full potential. After a semester and a half I feel Chatham has impacted me more than I could have ever imagined. I have finally found my voice. I know by the time I graduate I will feel even stronger about this. I am absolutely outraged this would even be considered. I have heard countless speeches from Chatham University officials promoting the advantages of attending an all women’s college. I feel like I have been flat out lied to. It would be an absolute scam to not allow current Chatham women to graduate before accepting men. The students and alumni need to work together to find a solution.

  17. Randi Goldberg Anderson '82 says:

    Dear Dr. Barazzone and Board of Trustees. This surprise attack on our institution is very disturbing. I am firmly against turning Chatham coed. Your excuses are extremely flimsy to me.

    When I was searching for a college where I would be happy, Chatham stood out as my only choice. I greatly appreciated the fact that Chatham’s sole purpose was to educate women. It provided a safe and nurturing environment for young women to challenge themselves in a wide variety of studies. I loved being a chemistry major where there were only 5 or 6 students in a class. It meant individual attention that I wouldn’t find at any other school. I believe there are still young women out there who are looking for this type of learning experience. There are still women who want to learn math and science without feeling the need to compete against males. We still have an education system that favors males, putting female students at a disadvantage especially in math and science.

    My understanding of why Chatham expanded into graduate programs was to be able to protect the women’s college. Maybe Chatham has spread itself too thin with the building in East Liberty and the farm. I have also heard that Chatham has been buying up real estate on Fifth Avenue around the school. Is that true? Chatham has forgotten the most important part of why it exists, to educate young women. Expand your undergraduate offerings and maybe you will attract more women. Instead of building new athletic centers, recruit some top notch professors. Why would a male be interested in coming to Chatham if females are not attracted to the school?

    Maybe Chatham is too top heavy with administrators now. I would like to see what the ratio of administrators and staff is compared to faculty. I would also like to see what the pay level for the administrators and staff is compared to faculty. Maybe you do not pay the teachers enough to be attractive. Maybe Chatham is just charging too high of a tuition rate for what it offers compared to other schools. When I attended, I can remember it being pretty reasonable for a private school compared to others I looked at.

    I have many questions about this process. It was kept a secret until two days ago and you are making the final decision in June, not giving us much time to voice our concerns and come up with other solutions to the problem. It seems that just saying “we are going coed” is the easy way out. Going co-ed also invites a whole new set of problems. What if the current student population does not want to live in a dorm with men? Where will the men be housed? Men usually want to go to a school with sports. How will that be handled?

    So far you have not shown me a good enough reason for throwing away 144 years of tradition and dedication to the education of women. I object whole heartedly to your proposition.

    Sincerely yours
    Randi Goldberg Anderson

  18. Chatham Alum says:

    Are you a current student at Chatham? If so, I’m curious why you chose Chatham and whether the single gender environment played a role in your decision?

  19. Lauren says:

    Patriarchal avenues? Please don’t misconstrue my point for the sake of hypotheticals and try to “apply this theory” (which is not a theory… it’s a remark) to inappropriate contexts. We’re talking about a college. There are historically African-American colleges, historically Jewish colleges, all-male colleges, etc. Are those all problematic too? It’s not insincere to say that these institutions are all important for different reasons. Chatham, the Pennsylvania College for Women, is unique and should not be compelled, just for the sake of its finances, to turn away from this legacy. Wellesley and Smith seem to have no problem with enrollment… perhaps they are offering something higher in educational quality? The point that I made was: if Chatham wants larger enrollment numbers, they should lower the tuition costs and make exceptional education affordable to those women who wish to attend an all-female school.

  20. Lauren says:

    Yes, exactly! Tuition costs are a huge drawback for so many.

  21. Tillie says:

    I would like to know if you are a current student as well, or disguising your true relation to Chatham Administration under the “Chatham Student” persona.

    Please stop re-posting and create new content. We’re not trying to belittle each other here. It’s a discussion arena.

  22. Student R says:

    As a recent graduate 2012 I would feel like some have previously stated that the whole “world ready women” statement and mantra stated over and over in my head would have been a lie if the institution opens it’s doors to a coed community. I know that the doors have been opened for the graduate school but maybe to increase undergraduate enrollment you need to lower tuition costs, lower some high ranked salaries, and keep steady on the mission tatement has been saying for years. I heard somewhere that women’s schools came around because they weren’t allowed in some of the schools men were attending. I almost feel like now some young women may not want to come here because we are not staying true to our sisterhood, at least that is how I feel as a Chatham “world ready woman” and I can say if this transition does come around that I will know and tell my children I went to a wonderful womens college and I feel bad for future classes for Chatham because many traditions will be different and the dynamic will just not be the same.

  23. P.E. Chatham '80 says:

    I found the recent announcement somewhat inevitable. I also expect the decision to go co-ed will be made after this pro forma feedback period. While the rationale may have some merit, what I find lacking is any explanation of how a future Chatham College will not be a small mediocre co-ed undergraduate institution with none of value it holds as a woman’s college. Who will it target or attract ? Will it move from liberal arts and professional preparation to health sciences and nursing ? Will it become a city commuter college ? Are the choices the Board considering to fade away as a women’s college or to pursue an unknown other ? What kind of business plan is that ? I would find it more palatable to consider an specified scenario beyond “co-ed.”

  24. Erin Dowd Chatham Student says:

    Help us keep Chatham College for Women forever by signing this petition

  25. Archimedre Ziviello says:

    Before Chatham finally ceases to exclusively serve women. Please indicate why an failed marketing strategy was allowed to go for five years without any return on the investment? Read some reasonable enrollment numbers. As the money flowed out, and no students flowed in, who was called to account? How are these marketing slush budgets controlled? What will be the future structure of tuition charges, up down, what? What are the Target enrollment numbers of women and men? There is nothing in this letter that indicates a plan, business or otherwise. Change a word combination here and there and it reads like it could be a flat screen television manufacturer; It making a case it can only be competitive making products the Far East labor and capital Disneyland. What about values, what about social justice, what about the mission and duty to the gender. Do you get to re-make the mission because of this 10 year period in the economy, or the next twenty. It was up, will it go down and stay down? How much long term planning is in play here? I guess may 1 to two years. Maybe the right donors and financial supporters are not attracted to the current leadership?

  26. A M says:

    A single sex education has not in anyway negatively impacted my ability to function in a gender diverse world. During my years at Chatham I was given many opportunities to interact with men socially and academically through the graduate students on campus and cross registering at local institutions. I also sought out social events with men through clubs and other activities. I met my fiancee “in college” although we attended different institutions.

    In becoming a coed institution it is incredibly naive to think its history as a women’s college will enable Chatham to escape the harsh reality of sexism and discrimination that women still face today. Introducing men to Chatham will introduce sexism to Chatham. This sexism may not be purposeful and it may not be overt, but it will exist as it exists in our workplaces and our world today.

    I am the woman I am today because I had four important developmental years to grow and find my voice in a world without discrimination. Because of my experiences at Chatham I learned to stand up for myself and not to accept discrimination in any arena of my life. Because of my single sex education experiences I was better equipped to enter a gender diverse workforce.

    The benefits of my Chatham education did not come from the academics that you wish to share with men, rather they came from the supportive atmosphere that their presence will erode.

  27. Lori says:

    I am an alum from the class of 1999. I first choose Chatham because of the small class sizes. Only once I moved in and began attending classes did the importance of a single-sex education begin to sink in. To this day, I remember the emphasis on female scientists in my biology classes. I also learned graphic design while working on the newspaper, which I was able to lead as a co-editor-in-chief my junior year. I know full well that neither of these experiences would be common or even possible in a co-ed institution.
    To me, it seems as though Eden Farm has swallowed up the rest of the campus and its mission. Please remember that the entire purpose of Chatham is to educate women first and foremost, and that is why this school has the alumnae it does. Without an emphasis on educating women in a single-sex environment, including maintaining the tutorial, Chatham truly ceases to exist. Sure, there may be a school that occupies the same campus, but it will not be the institution I attended. Chatham will exist in memory only.

  28. coug for life says:

    Chatham should go co-ed so it isn’t hypocritical? Women’s only education at the post secondary level isn’t about hypocracy, rather, it’s about giving students the ability to grow in an environment that fosters learning and acceptance and, get this, an open mind. It’s more hindering for some students at larger co-ed institutions to grow and accept others when they are worried about how they are perceived by others or feel able to be more judgmental of others. Just because a woman attends a single-sex institution does not mean she cannot function in society, nor does it mean she is a newly minted man-hater. Likewise, I feel that historically black colleges should be able to cater to African American students without pressure to accept those of other races. I’m certain many students attending those schools have remarkable experiences and graduate to become successful members of society. Today everyone wants everything to be “equal” for everyone, even if not everyone can acheive success in a singular environment. Single-sex education might not be everyone’s first choice, but for some it is life changing.
    This response doesn’t even touch the subjects of 1) there still exist some all-male schools in the US and 2) inequality that persists for women in the work world.

  29. Chatham Alumn says:

    I strongly believe that employee retention plays a big factor in the efforts of revitalizing our beloved institution. How does one expect to have a vast pool of applicants in Admissions and high alumni engagement in Annual Giving when very important positions in Annual Giving and Enrollment Management go vacant for months and/or are occupied by employees for one and two year terms? Where is our VP for Enrollment Management? Where is our Director for Undergraduate Admissions? Where is our Dean for the Chatham College for Women? I believe that these issues that you may think can be solved by opening your doors to men, will continue until you’re strategic and intentional about who you are hiring to lead these key offices!

  30. A Number Counter says:

    I would appreciate if someone from the administration could provide accurate numbers on currently enrollment. The media has been reporting different numbers in each article, and the US News and World Report that Dr. Barazzone herself references in her blog post brings the number in at 922 for undergraduates. (See: Please clarify this discrepancy and be transparent with your data. Provide us with access to the facts that you are including in these blog posts by giving us access to the sources.

  31. L says:

    Anyone, who grows vegetables utilizing sustainable practices, knows that the key to nutrient-dense food and strong, resilient plants is enriched soil. If you don’t enrich the soil over time, the crop will wither, will be attacked by destructive insects, and will not flourish.

    Chatham’s approach to growth is counterproductive to its own sustainability promise. Overextended graduate programs, extensive building investments, and new campuses show – at the surface – a thriving institution. As one peels back the layers of the well-crafted image, one starts to notice over-worked and underpaid faculty, disenchanted undergraduate students (who leave after their 1st/2nd years), and programs that are barely staffed and functioning. If Chatham were truly committed to and honored women’s education, it would enrich its undergraduate faculty, students, and programs in real, sustaining ways.

    Why do students choose Smith College? Because of its rigorous academics and its reputation as a quality liberal arts institution. I would encourage Chatham to take a deep look at itself. High-quality educational experiences create high-quality reputations, which attract the attention of serious students. The University should invest in its own undergraduate faculty, programs, and students instead of grasping for ready-made solutions, like going co-ed. In a customer-focused culture, quality overrides quantity. Look at trends in the private sector for evidence. In building quality, differentiating programs, the University builds loyal champions for those programs and the institution.

    I hope that the President and the Board have the courage to think creatively and boldly about the future of Chatham. There are many types of economic strategies. Some seek to clorox life in order to achieve ultimate efficiency, standardization, and wealth – leaving people and culture void of meaning. This type of thinking stamps out innovation. Others, emerging from the purpose economy, thrive on diversity and compassion. Sustainable farming and ‘greening’ comes from the purpose economy. This type of social innovation aligns beautifully with the vision of an all women’s institution. Getting rid of Chatham’s key differentiators at a time when society is seeking out value is counter-intuitive.

    Our daughters need bold, diverse options in the 21st century for higher education. Please consider infusing new life into the undergraduate women’s programs (e.g., its faculty, current students, etc.) so that young women – through their valuable experiences at Chatham – can grow into citizens and advocates who impact society in meaningful ways. Let’s invest in that purposeful future.

  32. Kate M. says:

    When I arrived at Chatham I was met with a thriving campus that was a pro-woman space and was an environment that you lauded as being one in which women had thrived- as they had as attendees of Women’s colleges have in the past. I remember it being one of the first things Ms. Barrazone and I spoke about and her words were convincingly passionate.

    I understand that Chatham is experiencing financial hardship in spite of the $15 million dollar grant received in October, student tuition, and the generous donations of our alumnae. It might be good to explore the idea of a way in which money can be allocated differently in a way that will not force the university to give up on that which defined the experience I enjoyed as a student. We will get through this recession and plateau in the numbers of student enrollment as a community.

    Honestly, I hope that the board of trustees is able to find a compromise that will allow for the university to remain true to its original intent as an institution and not give in to the pressure to assimilate. Chatham would lose so much more than it could ever gain. While Dean Waite has emphasized the importance of tuition to Chatham’s budget, I think that perhaps there has been an underestimation of the importance of the support the university from alumnae- both now and in the future, financially and otherwise.

  33. Nicole Hagan says:

    As an almost PhD in the sciences, I was thrilled to learn from this post for the first time, that Chatham has received a a National Science Foundation grant to increase women’s participation in STEM fields. However, as someone who has spent the better part of the last seven years applying for federal funding for scientific research in an economically difficult time when science funding at the federal level is being cut dramatically each fiscal year by agencies like NSF, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institutes of Health, I was shocked to see Dr. Barazzone suggest that this one $650,000 grant “is an example of the federal government’s commitment to women even in these hard economic times.” That statement is overreaching at best, and, thanks to my exceptional education by the faculty in the science department and the critical thinking required by my tutorial, I will tell you why.

    Statistics released by NSF on their own website show that, from 2004 through 2010, the National Science Foundation has only funded 26% of research proposals submitted from co-ed and single sex institutions in Pennsylvania (see: and view funding for institutions by state and year; National Science Foundation funding rates by year for proposals submitted by institutions in Pennsylvania: 2004 – 24%; 2005 – 23%; 2006 – 26%, 2007 – 30%; 2008 – 25%; 2009 – 33%; 2010 – 25%; 2011 – 23%; 2012 – 26%; 2013 – 24%).

    Proposals from women’s colleges in Pennsylvania were awarded funding in only five years: 2004, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013. Of the 3,148 proposals in Pennsylvania that received funding in these years, only 24 were for proposals submitted by women’s colleges. That means less than 1% of the funding provided to institutions in Pennsylvania by the National Science Foundation has been committed to advancing women’s participation in STEM education. While these numbers are for Pennsylvania only, I guarantee that nationwide, that 1% would shrink even more.

    Dr. Barazzone continues to say that they cannot continue to exist as a women’s college and reach critical mass with only 2% of high school girls wanting to attend a women’s college. If the argument to go co-ed is based on this very low percentage, how can you, in good faith, suggest that the federal government, even in this economic time, is committed to women’s education through funding?

  34. '08 Alum says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with this. Despite what it feels like the President and Trustees are saying, we won’t “just get over it” if they’ve already decided to go coed. The onus is on them to demonstrate to both their alumnae and their current students and their parents what the plan is beyond just going coed. What will they do if their target numbers still aren’t reached? What is the role they see Chatham fulfilling that other area schools can’t? What is the fundamental purpose they see of Chatham? Because right now it doesn’t seem like they and I see eye to eye on that.

  35. Ashley Walch says:

    “The point that I made was: if Chatham wants larger enrollment numbers, they should lower the tuition costs and make exceptional education affordable to those women who wish to attend an all-female school.”

    My sentiments exactly!

  36. Ashley Walch says:

    Remaining a women’s-only institution would not make Chatham hypocritical in any way, shape, or form. Women and other minorities have fought for their safe-spaces throughout the history of this nation and to just admit men is to strip that safe-space away, bit by bit, until nothing remains. It is not political correctness. I am reminded greatly of the arguments against a Women’s Center at my 2-year community college – they too thought it would be “exclusionary” and “hypocritical” to offer a safe space for a select group of students on the campus.

    Additionally, comparing the historical single-sex nature of Chatham to that of segregation is a false comparison at best. There is no social, institutional, or historical basis of discrimination against men, whereas there is against women, people of color, LGBT, and other minorities.

  37. Sarah says:

    When I try to put into words why I think Chatham should stay a women’s college a lot of word jumble tends to come out. I get a bit weepy. I feel my heart swell with pride for having been lucky enough to have had the wonderful college experience I had. I just can’t seem to verbalize my thoughts and feelings and maybe that’s because there are so many struggling to come out. I just can’t get them to wait their turn. I was browsing the internet for a quote from Meryl Streep that I had heard years and years ago about her experience at Vassar when it was one of the Seven Sisters. Instead of finding the one that I wanted I found a quote from her speech from the 2010 Barnard commencement that seemed more fitting to what I want to say right now.

    “I got to Vassar which 43 years ago was a single-sex institution, like all the colleges in what they call the Seven Sisters, the female Ivy League and I made some quick but lifelong and challenging friends. And with their help outside of any competition for boys my brain woke up. I got up and I got outside myself and I found myself again. I didn’t have to pretend, I could be goofy, vehement, aggressive, and slovenly and open and funny and tough and my friends let me. I didn’t wash my hair for three weeks once. They accepted me like the Velveteen Rabbit. I became real instead of an imagined stuffed bunny…”

    I felt that Streep’s words more eloquently sum up anything that has come from my brain since the co-ed announcement on Tuesday. Chatham, like all women’s colleges tend to do, helps us find our true selves. The support of the students, faculty and staff at Chatham encouraged every single one of us to find our voices, to stand up, to be ourselves. Chatham brings us to life by allowing us the space to figure out who we want to be without the pressure of the gender roles we had been assigned at birth. We learn to be strong and brave and unafraid of our own intellect amongst our peers. That confidence then spills over into the so called “real world.” We don’t have to pretend to be anything. We can just be us. Chatham brings us to life. How can we throw that away because times are hard?

    I guess I just can’t understand why we get emails and articles printed in the Recorder bragging about the large donations that Chatham has received (not to mention an email explaining the exorbitant salary of Dr. Barazzone) but mere months later the tune has changed and things are so dire the Board of Trustees is willing to sacrifice our most precious commodity by co-educating the women’s college.

  38. Laura Strauss says:

    Dear Dr. Barazzone and Board of Trustees,

    First, thank you for your consistent and thoughtful leadership of Chatham University. It is my understanding that the proposals made over the course of these last few days are not ones that have been entered into lightly, but have been presented after tireless hours of discussion and research. For this reason, I come to the table seeking not only to be understood but to understand. My hope is that, as I share my perspective on the presenting situation with you, that the extensive Chatham community may receive your perspective in return.

    I write from the perspective of one for whom a women’s education is invaluable. My fellow esteemed alumnae have written most eloquently of the various statistics which reflect the continuing necessity of single-sex education for the historically oppressed half of the global population. From the political arena to the medical field, we see countless examples of how women’s education has promoted the cause of women in these chosen career paths. Additionally, from the political arena to the medical field, we see countless examples of just how far women still need to reach before the shards of the proverbial glass ceiling have fully fallen away. However, I am not a statistician, and I leave these statistical proofs to those fellow alum’s whom I am proud to call my Chatham sisters.

    As for myself, I am the 2% who purposefully sought out a women’s college. I will never forget the endless weekends in the car with my father trudging from campus to campus in search of the perfect collegial fit. It was not a process that I enjoyed. However, all of this changed when we turned onto Woodland Road. My countenance completely changed as I realized that I had come home. After years of fighting for a voice in my suburban high school, only to be overshadowed by the boisterous male population, I had stumbled joyously upon a community in which the female voice isn’t only heard but encouraged. At this point in my life, I had become discouraged by the subliminal institutions of patriarchy, the objectification of females by the teenage male population and the unwillingness of most institutions of learning to affect any change regarding these issues. Chatham College was different, and I leapt into the 2% with both feet.

    The easy decision to attend a women’s institution for my higher education has benefited me on countless planes, but I must emphasize how Chatham College served me in my particular career field. Upon graduation, I began my seminary studies and now serve as a solo pastor for a rural congregation in a greater metropolitan area. In gatherings with my fellow clergy colleagues, I am regularly the only female in the room. If I am not the only female, I am generally the only female under the age of sixty. Indeed, the glass ceiling has only recently been shattered for female clergy. And yet, I have thrived where I have been planted. I have served my congregation as their only pastor for more than four years, though still a young woman. I have been appointed to numerous leadership positions on a church government level, though relatively new to the ministry. Additionally, I have been elected the president of my local ministerium, though I am but one of two women in regular attendance. It is one of my deepest convictions that none of the above would have been possible had I not been planted in the soil that is Chatham College.

    In my first semester of my first year studies, I found my voice first nurtured and strengthened by a course in Fairy Tales. This course stands out in my memory for multiple reasons. First, it was my first opportunity to learn that all the world may be read, needs to be read, through the lens of the female gaze. Second, it was my first opportunity to share my voice in a community of those who would listen. But, finally, I remember this course because it concluded with the distribution of what the professor lovingly called “Agency Wands.” These little toys which reflected the Fairy Tales we’d so diligently studied were an active reminder to our first-year class of our agency of women. We have a voice, the professor taught, and our voice is worth hearing.

    Some will say that a women’s institution is not only unnecessary in our modern landscape, but impractical. To these critics, I would refer to theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s time as an instructor at the seminary called Finkenwalde. Though the second world war raged around them, Bonhoeffer prioritized this brief time in his students’ lives to provide these young men with an enriching communal experience prior to their entrance into a cruel world. Many called Bonhoeffer’s work impractical. Most of his students would perish in the war, anyway, they scoffed. Yet, Bonhoeffer believed that even as he trained his seminarians for the difficult context in which they served, the best gift that he could give these students was the memory of a beloved community. This communal experience, he believed, would grant the young men the courage necessary to fight the necessary fight in an unnecessarily hateful land. So Chatham provides not only training, but courage for the continuing struggle of women to overcome.

    In closing, therefore, I come to the table seeking to understand in addition to being understood. I would like to know the focus of Chatham University. What is the driving vision of this institution as it stands today? Additionally, in a request for open communication, what are the authentic reasons for the possibilities laid before us? You have trained your students so well that we are aware of the flaws in the given justifications. We long to come to the table in mutual transparency, not to criticize, but to understand.

    Again, thank you for your consistent work in seeking to do right by such a beloved institution. I would request that you please keep your alumnae informed of how we may best work to save the women’s institution that does not only hold a place as a diploma on our walls, but which has become a part of the fabric of our very being.

  39. Chatham Mod says:


    Just to re-assure you and the rest of the commenters on this blog, the moderators of this feedback blog and Chatham Administration will not be posting to defend, support, or otherwise debate the Board’s decision. Our only role here will be to remove vulgar or inflammatory comments and clarify any inaccuracies in the information that may be shared. Your feedback will be a vital part of this study period and we encourage everyone to continue the discussion.

  40. Amber Christie says:

    I am too angry to write articulately at the moment, so instead I’m agreeing with your statement. I feel that with a drop in the tuition (which could be achieved in part by cutting unnecessarily high paychecks for administration), the only thing needed to increase enrollment would be a strong program of outreach to high schools by alums. I would talk to kids happily, if I thought they would have a chance at avoiding the $100k+ of debt I’ve had to take on. The economy is (slowly) improving, but all colleges, not just Chatham, need to be considering what kind of return they are giving for the investment. Small private schools are not a good investment right now, and the biggest way to help that is to cut costs and lower tuition.

  41. Justine gentile says:

    I think times are changing and it’s not a terrible idea to expand to co ed however their are many ways in my opinion to cut costs before this occurs. I think going co ed will cause the loss of tradition the university upholds. Also I think it is not going to have that unique ness anymore that Chatham offers. They have already mentioned that number pus all women colleges are following this trend but if we can prevent not conforming we shouldn’t. So many women attended Chatham for their own reasons and knowing that it is going co ed almost taints the image of Chatham I had painted those few years ago. I’m sad to see this happening however, Chatham will always be home to me.

    Justine Gentile class of 10

  42. Emily Fear says:

    I fail to see how making the undergraduate program coed is going to solve Chatham’s financial problems. Can you imagine being a young male student on that campus for the next decade? The next two decades? Paying engorged tuition fees to be a stigmatized presence on a campus of current and former students who see you as a symbol of decaying institution?

    Can you imagine the loss of alumni support when those of us that valued our single-sex education see that tradition flushed away? Will the dollars replace the goodwill Chatham will most surely lose?

    I meet people, lifelong residents of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, who do not know that Chatham exists. This is not indicative of a problem with single-sex undergraduate programs. This is indicative of a problem with marketing, outreach and student recruitment. This is a failure to mobilize an alumni base to its full potential. This is a failure to promote the benefits of a single-sex education, rather than avoid the topic all together. This is a failure of creating tuition and scholarship packages that are competitive attractors to students in hard economic times.

    We know all too well what will be sacrificed if the undergraduate program is made coed. What is not clear are the benefits.

    Do not tear something down to only leave it in ruin.

  43. Dibbie Spurr Appleton says:

    I may be living still in another age, but I do believe there is a place for an all women’s college in today’s world, and it does seem to me this latest version of the question is sudden. Randi Goldberg Anderson, class of ’82, in her February 20 comments, seems to say everything I have on my mind about the matter at hand. So, ditto!

    I wanted an all-girl’s school and know I gained from that exposure. My mother attend PCW (Pennsylvania College for Women) and I’d like to think the same environment might be there for one of my granddaughters.

    Class of 1960

  44. Nadine Banbks says:

    I’m concerned that if increased revenue is the objective, how many males will it take to be successful? How many males are projected to attend Chatham within the first five years?

  45. Amber Keefer says:

    We live in a world that still accepts demeaning and marginalizing attitudes towards girls and women as everyday occurrences. Just last week, I heard someone at a co-educational institution tell a recent graduate who had majored in business, and happened to be a woman, that she would have to sleep around in order to get anywhere in that field.

    As long as statements like that are made….as long as there is still a wage gap….as long as it is newsworthy for a woman’s accomplishment to be noted that it was done by a woman…there is a need for women’s only institutions.

  46. Renee Eaton says:

    While I understand the board’s logic, I fear that becoming another co-ed regional school will not improve enrollment. Once it becomes fully co-ed, how does the school hope to differentiate itself? And how will it offset the loss that results from those few women who do want a single-sex school? When I attended Chatham, I wanted to see how “the other half lived,” so I attended Penn State’s main campus as a guest student for a term. Having thrived at Chatham for two years, I spoke up in class, especially during controversial debates… and the retorts I received about being a @#$% convinced me that there was still a need for a woman’s only institution. And having worked in non-traditional fields since, I know that, while it has improved, “it’s not over.” I’m sure that Chatham gave me the confidence to thrive in a world that isn’t always equal.

  47. Kate M. says:

    I’d like to propose that Chatham submit to a voluntary financial audit of University funds. The community deserves to know exactly how the money is allocated. If Chatham is truly struggling this terribly after a $15 million Falk grant they received in mid-October, in addition to alumnae donations, as well as student tuition there something amiss.

  48. Randi Goldberg Anderson '82 says:

    Kate M that signs like an excellent suggestion!

  49. Randi Goldberg Anderson '82 says:

    Sorry for the autocorrect, sounds!

  50. EM says:

    Agreed! We are alumnae who love Chatham College for Women and are obviously fighting for it to stay. If there were financial concerns or concerns of enrollment, why were we not rallied to assist? I’ve read so many comments on our various online groups about alumnae who have been (and are) willing to help Chatham College for Women grow and thrive. But we were never asked, and we surely were not provided with warning signs that this path was imminent. I believe, had that been the case, we would have mobilized equally as strong – but with a different purpose and a different desired outcome.

  51. Sarah says:

    Excellent idea Kate!

  52. Cassie N says:

    Come off anon or you will never be taken seriously.

  53. Claudia Aikens says:

    Oh Amber, you are so right. So much has not changed since 1976. Continuing to exist just for existence sake will solve nothing. This is about the opposite of my initial comment. Thank you for clearing my mind.

  54. Margie Clark-Kevan says:

    I’m also highly in favor of keeping Chatham a women’s university. I have never regretted my decision to go to Chatham and I would hope that the unique experience as a women’s college in the great city of Pittsburgh does not end. Based on the tone of the informational email I received, I’m concerned that the the decision has already been made by the board. I truly hope that this is not so, and that the responses on this feedback site will be taken seriously.

    I find the idea of a “Chatham institute for Leadership and Gender Equality” intriguing, but this does not mean that the full campus should become co-ed. In my opinion, feminine strength is beginning to shift into a more favorable mainstream light again, and therefore we should grab onto that to encourage new students. This is the perfect time to remain strong in who we are. Chatham has made it through the tough years of a stunted economy and negativity on feminism- persevere now!

    I hope that the focus will center on improving recruitment strategies that will make Chatham more accessible for qualified students (financially and informational strategies for easing travel beyond the 200 mile mark). I’m a high school teacher in New England who would be happy to speak, run local interviews, answer questions, etc.

  55. Jay Mat (Janitza Velazquez) says:

    I originally attended Marymount College for Women in Tarrytown, NY prior to coming to college. They were having financial issues, so Fordham University took them over but planned on staying true with having it as female only. That was until they made their graduate program co-educational, and then later on we found that they were closing the undergraduate program entirely as most of their funding came from the graduate classes which was pretty even with both genders. At this time Marymount College is no more, and is no longer a college campus. I transferred to Chatham because I wanted to attend a college that would help me break free from my strict upbringing and expose me to a world that I could feel free to whatever I wanted without restrictions or distractions.

    In reading the statement from Dr. Barrazone, it doesn’t seem to make sense that they would want to become co-education if they’re having money problems, seeing as how they would ending up having to spend a lot of money on reorganization of not just classes, but dormitories, activities, and sports programs. It is not just women’s colleges that are seeing a decline in enrollment it is all major universities as most students have opted to go to local colleges and state run universities because of expenses.

    It also doesn’t make any sense that someone who is paid well over one million a year can’t seem to come up with a solution to fix their enrollment problems like other institutions have. I find it hard to believe that so much money has been spent on advertising the school, because I work with the grades 9-12 student body in Connecticut and have not seen any advertisements about Chatham. I think it would be a great idea to reach out to local alumnae to advertise our school and help with recruitment. When I first came to Chatham for a tour and orientation, I wasn’t very interested; until I met some of the students. They were very welcoming and were diverse, which is the main reason why I decided to attend.

    Now here’s another problem. If we were to get more women to attend, where would you put them? While I was attending Chatham, between 2003 and 2007, the student body was expanding rapidly and there was a problem with dorms, classes, and especially parking. Even if you had males attend the undergraduate college, where would they reside?
    It doesn’t help that Chatham does need a major makeover to their undergraduate program. When I attended they didn’t offer the specific degree I wanted until my junior year, and by then it was too late. Chatham is a beautiful campus that is littered with art and history, and I think they should use that to their advantage in making the bold statement that against all odds we will win, instead of we’re giving up and changing because this study says we’re in danger of shutting down. Since when did Chatham need someone else to make the decision for them? Aren’t supposed to be “World Ready Women”? If Chatham becomes co-educational it isn’t because it had to in order to stay with the times, it will be because Esther Barrazone failed at doing the one job that she’s paid so much money to do; to keep the integrity of our school alive. We lost the eddy theatre; we lost our historic Mellon pool and bowling alley, and now we’re about to lost it all.

    I am ending by statement by saying two things. One, if Chatham goes co-educational, you might as well change the name from Chatham because the school will no longer deserve it; and two, as an alumnae I will never again donate anything to this school.

  56. Cheryl Devaney says:

    Dear President Barazzone and the Board of Trustees:
    Please preserve the mission and spirit of an institution that has shaped the lives of so many women! The need for Chatham College for Women is still alive and relevant in the 21st century. Many Chatham alumnae have already presented convincing arguments and facts supporting the need for all women’s colleges. Instead of re-hashing these arguments, I would like to propose some practical considerations for expanding the women’s undergraduate college during these difficult financial times.

    Although I understand the financial challenges, I believe that Chatham can reinvent herself without compromising the all-women’s undergraduate program. I hope that the board will consider the following suggestions:

    • Offer single mothers the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate degree at Chatham by providing family housing, childcare facilities, and support systems for these women. According to a report by U.S. News, there is an increasing demand for child-friendly college programs for single mothers. There are currently only a few schools that offer these types of programs for women despite the growing need. Please refer to the following article for more details:

    According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of single-parent families (especially mother-child families) has risen dramatically in the past four decades. While this demographic of single mothers is growing, few educational programs help these women achieve a better life for themselves and their children; the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows a 13.6% unemployment rate for single mothers in Pennsylvania. If Chatham is genuinely concerned about advancing women and providing equal access to education for women, this would be a great place to start, and also a way to grow the undergraduate college.

    • Offer Chatham women affordable associate and certificate degree programs that are highly vocationally structured. These programs could be completed separately or in conjunction with an undergraduate degree program. This could be a great opportunity for women to get hands-on experience. There may also be apprenticeship programs that could be structured into these types of degrees by partnering with businesses and organizations that are seeking skilled employees.

    • Focus less on marketing and more on a personal representation of Chatham. Many Chatham women including myself would be willing to reach out to high school girls and potential transfer students in order to introduce them to Chatham and share our experiences. Please take this into consideration and help facilitate more alumnae involvement in recruiting students for the undergraduate college.

    • Offer undergraduate and associate degrees for women interested in computer science, software development, and information systems management. The high-tech economy is expanding, and women are largely underrepresented. The small class environment at Chatham would be a wonderful atmosphere for women to learn and develop essential skills in a field that is dominated by men. Chatham could consider partnering with programs like “Girl Develop It” that are helping to empower women to develop software. Chatham could also consider partnering with businesses and organizations that are desperately seeking talented women with these skills. Please build these essential courses of study so that Chatham women can graduate with skills that are in-demand.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and feedback. I sincerely hope that the leadership at Chatham will preserve Chatham College for Women.

    Cheryl Devaney,
    Class of 2007

  57. Katie McAuley says:

    Is it monetarily worth losing an extremely unique and valuable trait such as all women’s education and the support (monetarily) of 145 years of alumni for the likelihood of a very small percentage of men who want to attend Chatham? Carlow currently has a 17% male student presence. Will the board and Barrazone please look at fundamental issues of Chatham and the administration that would deter both men and women from attending? Instead of throwing away 145-year history, that is a priceless selling point for prospective students. Will you please consider how Chatham can be competitive with other women’s colleges, such as having a well supported and funded women’s studies/gender studies department and a Diversity Affairs office?

  58. Katie B says:

    You do realize that the Falk money was specifically for the Falk School of Sustainability and is not allowed to be used for any other fund because that is what the Falk’s chose.

  59. Katie B says:

    Are you discussing Smith, as in William Smith? Smith is now a part of Hobart and Smith, which allows each body to function “separately” but together. I believe this is something that Chatham may look at in the functioning of the different schools if the co-ed proposition moves forward…

  60. Katie B says:

    Carlow currently has a 9% enrollment rate of men.

  61. Renee Eaton says:

    Love these ideas!

  62. Honore Ervin says:

    Having attended small all-girls’ schools and women’s colleges since 7th grade — MacDuffie School, Springfield, MA; Westover School, Middlebury, CT; Mount Holyoke College (1993-94); Chatham College (1994-97), I probably don’t need to tell you how strongly I feel about the importance of single-sex education. I’m working on a really, firm, coherent letter about why I feel Chatham is important to women…to Pittsburgh…to our country. However, in the meantime, allow me to add some informal thoughts about why Chatham, as a women’s college, is important to me, and how, as such, it helped me grow both academically and personally.

    I chose Chatham, because I wanted a small school (smaller even than Mt. Holyoke, where I started), where I could enjoy truly individualized attention from my professors in my field (I double-majored in Art History and English Lit) Aside from that attention — and as a result, engaging enthusiastically with other students in all of my classes, you couldn’t ask for finer professors or students at any college or university in America. Add to that, a study-abroad program, cross-registration at other fine universities (I took a few architectural history classes at CMU to round out my degree), a required tutorial (such a feather in one’s cap when applying for grad school, especially if the topic was rather obscure, such as mine), and a jewel of a campus (I am big believer that one’s surroundings make a big impact on how well one functions) Chatham prepared me not just for a term at Oxford University (Trinity College) studying architectural history and English Lit with world-renowned professors, but a good job in my field at the Carnegie Museum of Art immediately after graduation (it likely helped that Dr. Roark suggested I intern there my senior year — I probably wouldn’t have done that without her help and encouragement) and graduate school in one of the most competitive grad programs in Art History, at the University of Virginia. And I wrote two popular etiquette books on top of all that (“Things You Need to Be Told,” 2001 and a sequel, “More Things You Need to Be Told,” 2003). Could I have done that without Chatham? You know, maybe those don’t sound like very big things, but I doubt it. I was always timid, and I doubt that I would have even been confident enough to go through the hiring process at the Carnegie with some hand-holding, without the strength Chatham instilled in me. Or all the way to England to study. (Maybe not even to VA all by myself for grad school! I remember my parents suggested Pitt, which has a good program, but I ended up choosing the better one, even though it was far away.) Not to mention having the bravery to say to myself, “Hey, I might be on to something here, with a book!” Yet, I bit the bullet, sent it out, and it was accepted by the first agency I mailed it to — a very prestigious one, and the oldest in the US, and after that, bought in short order by the world-renowned Penguin Group. Yes, Chatham, these are just a few things I’ve accomplished because of you, as a world-class women’s college.

  63. Marisa Klages-Bombich says:

    Dr. Barrazone and Chatham University Trustees,

    I am disgusted and dismayed by the decision to entertain proposals for co-educational status for Chatham College. I entered Chatham as it was celebrating it’s 125th anniversary, and as it had just recommitted to serving women in a single-sex undergraduate environment. Even a 1994-1995 Cornerstone yearbook segment wrote: “While graduate programs in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Education and Liberal Arts have admitted men to Chatham for the first time, faculty, staff, students and administration have joined together to lead Chatham into the future. They’ve proven that even after one hundred and twenty-five years, some things [the women’s college] never change.” Why now, as Chatham nears it’s 150th anniversary should the call for co-education again appear? Dr. Barrazone, why, after you’ve shown such tremendous commitment to women’s education and leadership do you feel the need to open the doors of Chatham to men?

    I’m sure you know, as I do, that enrollment in colleges across the country is decreasing; however, this decrease seems to be directly connected to the skyrocketing costs of tuition. If liberal arts education is placed out of the reach of students and families because of tuition and fees then liberal arts institutions are signing their own death warrants. Yet, there are liberal arts colleges- in fact women’s colleges- who are enrolling over 30% of their accepted students: including Mt. Holyoke (31%), Smith (35.3%), and Barnard (48.8%)- all colleges which Chatham has at various times compared itself with. What exactly is the percentage of enrolled vs. admitted students at Chatham? Increasing the student body through men will not solve Chatham’s financial situation- if enrollment overall is decreasing- men are attending college less frequently then women (1.4 women enroll for every male student). How then will harnessing male students have a positive impact on the undergraduate college? What exactly does Chatham have for men that differentiates it from hundreds of other co-educational liberal arts institutions that already exist? Many of those schools either have a lower ticket price or higher prestige than Chatham- so why try to recruit a population who already has multiple options?

    It seems that it would better serve Chatham University to invest some of the time and money that has been invested in the graduate programs and in the new campuses into the women’s college. Allowing the college to languish financially and in admissions and support over the past years has been gross oversight of what once was considered “the eighth sister.” Spend some time creating a better national profile for Chatham and focusing on undergraduate education and perhaps coeducation will not ever need to be revisited.


    Marisa A. Klages-Bombich ’98

  64. Deborah Morrison says:

    Dear President Barazzone and Trustees,
    I urge you not to abandon Chatham College for Women.

    A single-sex college is not for everyone. But it has never been for everyone.

    Single-sex education is what makes Chatham’s undergraduate college unique, and differentiates it from the many other small, private liberal arts colleges in the country. I don’t believe that taking away the very thing that makes Chatham special will lead to a large increase in enrollment or make the college stronger in the future.

    Perhaps we should work on doing a better job recruiting the “2%”, and educating the other 98% of young women about the advantages of a single- sex college, and the unique educational opportunities they will experience at Chatham.

    I would not be the woman I am today without Chatham College. I entered Chatham as a shy, insecure girl and left it as a strong, self-confident young woman. I know I would not have “come out of my shell” and reached my full potential at a coed college. The support, encouragement and first class education I received at Chatham gave me the foundation and skills to succeed in law school, in a male dominated profession, and to reach a top corporate legal position in a male dominated industry.

    There certainly is still an important role for a women’s college in today’s world. Opportunities for women have increased since I graduated from Chatham 37 years ago. But we still have a long way to go. Sexism is not as openly expressed today as it was in the past, but it does still exist in schools and in the workplace. Attending a women’s college gives young women an advantage in developing the leadership skills they need to continue breaking down barriers and move into positions of leadership and influence.

    Chatham is a much larger and stronger institution today than it was when I and my classmates on the Board of Trustees were students there in the 1970’s. This is not the time to abandon 144 years of history and end Chatham College for Women.

    Deborah Morrison, Class of 1977

  65. Jina O'Neill says:

    I believe there are other ways we can beat this low enrollment issue. As a prod Alum, I chose Chatham because I was a legacy and came from a family of strong women that graduated from there. This tradition still runs in our family with the latest graduate in 2012. But more importantly I chose Chatham because I could be go to class feeling empowered by like-minded women, be taught by smart intelligent women and overall being able to feel comfortable in my own skin on campus.

    I will keep this brief by pleading that the decision is not made to stray from tradition. I hope current students and Alum that feel the same will continue to fight for this important cause.

    Class of 2005

  66. Aria says:

    One of the most glaring issues with this announcement has been the lack of support for current students. The students are strong passionate women and this coed announcement came as a huge shock to them.

    During the formal announcement, students were able to ask questions to a defensive, borderline hostile president, however this setting was both intimidating and too large to be comfortable for most students to express themselves.

    For some students this announcement was considered a tragedy. Unlike other tragedies on campus where student support services are offered, little to no support has been offered. I believe that there should be open counseling sessions to allow students to come and express their concerns and feelings in a nonjudgmental environment.

    Please allow these women to get the support they so desperately need! Please provide them with the coping tools and welcoming environment that they can use to express their emotions and concerns. Whether Chatham University continues to have a women’s college or a co-ed student body the focus needs to remain on the students and their wellbeing!

  67. 02 salutes you! says:

    I agree as well. If this problem began in 2008, why weren’t we as alums being asked or responded to for our help. Part of the enrollment issue is that you have to do the work. You have to be out there, actively seeking out people. You want to know how i found out about Chatham– my brother’s girlfriend at the time wanted a room in Rae for her sophomore year. I grew up an hour north of the the city in another college town. An alum was my dentist as a child. Yet, had it not been for my brother’s girlfriend I would have never known about Chatham and i cringe at what i would be like today with out it. Yes when i visited, i knew i was home and finally in an environment that would allow me to be the person that i knew i was. Had the undergrad programs been co-educational, I’m not sure the person that I am, would’ve ever been able to come out. I agree with the suggestions provided by others in order to help us get back and maintain Chatham College. Just reach out, we’ll be there. The words of our alma mater ring so true right now– “While building dreams anew, seeking for all that’s true, OUR alma mater, We pledge our faith in you.” Pledge your faith in us and let us save our school and traditions. We’ll do the work

  68. Trinity Zang says:

    Dear Dr. Barazzone and the Board of Trustees:

    When I was in seventh grade I attended Expanding Your Horizons at Chatham College with my best friend. We spent the day in math and science workshops surrounded by other girls interested in this traditionally male dominated field of study. It was so empowering to have no fear of asking questions and to have lab partners that shared the experiments instead of trying control everything. That is the day I decided I would go to Chatham College.

    During my senior year I only thought of applying to Chatham. My guidance counselor advised me against Chatham. He told me I would be “wasting my time” and I should apply to schools like Princeton. Despite his comments I applied to Chatham (early decision) and I was thrilled to receive my acceptance letter at the start of 1994. In late August I moved into Fickes Hall and prepared to go to Camp Ligoneer for First Year Orientation. Twenty years later I still remember the ice breakers, rope courses, trust falls and the women who became my friends and remain so to this day.

    Chatham gave me more than lifelong friends; she gave me a high quality scientific education. At other universities first year science courses have hundreds of students in a large lecture hall where professors have been shown to be biased against women in the classroom. My largest class was first year chemistry, there were less than thirty of us. These small classes allowed the professors to engage the students and challenge those who needed more. I do not feel that I would have gained this kind of personalized attention at a co-educational institution

    I have never regretted my decision to attend Chatham College. I still sing “The Ivy Of Chatham” and reminisce about the friends I made and my favorite professors. When I return to Pittsburgh I drive to campus, walk down to the pond and feel like I am at home. Now I bring my daughter with me and she has fallen in love with Chatham. It is breaking my heart that the legacy of Chatham College for Women may disappear before she has a chance to experience it.

    I am prepared to stand with my fellow world ready women and fight not only for my traditions and memories but for my future Chatham sisters who deserve the same quality education that I received. Chatham gave me a voice and I am prepared to use it to keep Chatham College for Women as it has been for the last one hundred and forty five years.

    Sincerely, Trinity Zang, Class of 1998

  69. MKB says:

    She is likely talking about Smith College in MA, a well known and tremendously successful women’s college- not Hobart and William Smith, a college in Geneva, NY. They are two separate institutions.

  70. Trinity Zang says:

    Cheryl when I was an undergraduate in the mid 90s they did have apartments for single mothers. I am not sure why they did away with it.

  71. Lisa Kulick says:

    Dear President Barazzone, Board of Trustee members and senior faculty and adminstrators,
    May we please read the report that the Undergraduate Steering Committee presented to the Board of Trustees this month? I’m sure our alumnae would appreciate understanding the facts. It’s so important that that this issue includes a candid discussion on the increasing challenges facing small, undergraduate educational institutions, nation-wide as well as regional, single-sex as well as co-ed, in additional to the specific challenges facing Chatham. Let us, as alumnae, educate ourselves on the facts about the educational marketplace so we can better address, as a team of Chatham supporters, the growing needs of our beloved alma mater.
    Thank you,
    Lisa Kulick ’92

  72. Lysbeth Em Benkert says:

    To President Barrazone and the Board of Trustees,

    Single-sex educational institutions are just as important now as they were 100 years ago, though for very different reasons.

    Our culture in the US has, over the past 15-20 years become increasingly sexualized — media are saturated with images of both men and women photoshopped to such an extent that they bear little resemblance to their originals. Not only are blemishes eliminated, but legs get longer, waists get trimmed, necks elongated, hips are shrunk. Consumers come to see these manufactured images as normative – to believe that “those people” represent what we should all look like, despite the fact that no one ever looks like that. The models who posed for the pictures don’t even look like that. Young people immersed in these images internalize that message – that they “ought” to look like those photo-manipulated ideals, that the most reliable assessment of their own self-worth is how attractive they are to potential sexual partners. While this has always been true to a certain extent, consumer culture in the US has exacerbated this tendency – marketers know that we (especially young people) buy more stuff when we feel (sexually) insecure.

    Where are the spaces in which a young person can escape these pressures in order to find an identity separate from overly-sexualized, unrealistic, externally-generated images? Single-sex schools.

    Young people – both women and men – need the space to define themselves. Single-sex education provides that space.

    I am not surprised to learn that only 2% of high school girls express a desire to go to an all-women’s college. Let’s face it, sixteen year olds (boys and girls) are walking sacks of hormones. This is not news.

    Like the 98% of high school seniors cited in the Board’s report, I was not in search of a women’s college when I went searching for a school. In fact, the only reason I enrolled as a freshman was because I had received a generous scholarship – otherwise my family could never have afforded the tuition. By the time I graduated from Chatham, however, I was fully committed to the experience of an all-women’s school. Since graduation, I have attended a co-educational school (an R-1 graduate program), and I now teach at a co-educational university. While both of those institutions are excellent in their way, neither could have given me what Chatham did – the ability to learn in an environment free from the pressures of the mating game. My friends and I might have spent plenty of time outside the classroom giving in to our hormones, but in the classroom, we were blissfully free from sexual politics.

    Chatham’s marketing campaign has got to educate teens about the benefits of single-sex education, and it has got to speak to them in their own terms. Has it done this? Or does it speak only with the voice of their mothers?

    Chatham has got to work on making itself more affordable. Has it done this?

    Chatham has got to invest in undergraduate faculty and facilities. Has it done this? Or has it only poured its money into the graduate programs?

    I am not ready to believe that Chatham has run out of options to sustain its all-women’s undergraduate program. I hope that the Board comes to agree.

  73. Jessica McMeyer says:

    Thank you for your excellent points and articulate comments! I absolutely agree and am looking forward to hearing the administration’s response.

  74. Jessica McMeyer says:

    Dr. Barazzone,
    I have to admit that I am still reeling a bit from your comments above and in the initial announcement. It is unbelievable to me that you are questioning the need for single-sex education. There is no other environment where young women can have as many opportunities to speak up, speak out and take on leadership roles than at single-sex institutions. We are able to see the women around us and the women before us do inspiring things. To be honest, YOU were one of those women for me. I remember the pride that I felt being invited to your home and having conversations with a college president.
    I can not imagine you got to where you are today without experiencing a great deal of sexism, both overt and covert. Have you forgotten those experiences? Regardless, I do sincerely thank you for all of your hard work keeping Chatham financially viable and growing. You have done well. But it is also obvious to me that you have lost sight of the primary mission of Chatham, to educate young WOMEN. I say this all due respect and without animosity, that if you honestly believe that there is no need for women’s colleges then it is time for you to move on. Chatham needs, and deserves a president who is willing to use their expertise and skills to fight for its’ fundamental mission, not give up when the going gets tough.

    Jessica McMeyer Class of 2000

  75. Thespine Kavoulakis says:

    We are just starting to look at colleges for my 16 year old son and in a few years for my daughter, so I looked at the Chatham website with the eyes of a parent who might send a child there, and frankly, I found the website seriously lacking in promoting Chatham’s attributes. First of all, when comes up, the very first thing that potential students and parents should see is why they need to consider enrolling at Chatham and how a women’s college and a Chatham degree will positively impact the rest of their lives. Instead, they see a whole bunch of options to weed through just to get some basic information that they don’t need yet. Before I want to even look at the campus or apply, I want to see concrete information to decide whether or not to seriously consider this school. Even then, in ten minutes of clicking through menus, I did not see concrete information showing me that an education at Chatham would produce women who were thoroughly prepared–and prepared better than competing schools could prepare them–for the best graduate schools, professional schools, careers or other endeavors. If this information doesn’t convince females to come to Chatham, how will the same (although edited to remove the all-female component) information persuade males to attend? How is anyone sure that the problem is declining numbers in female enrollment and won’t continue to be general declining enrollment if males are admitted? What I DID find on the website, however, that I wasn’t looking for, were a couple of grammatical errors.

  76. Jay Mat (Janitza Velazquez) says:

    So if you are so apposed to Chatham staying a women’s college, then why did you attend in the first place? Why did you not go to one of the hundreds of other co-educational institutions?

  77. Sarah Stulga says:

    Dr. Barazzone –

    I was one of the high school students who you cite are uninterested in attending a women’s college. I grew up with few female friends, and my perceptions of a women’s college did not appeal to me. Thankfully, my mother (a graduate of Chatham College class of 1982) made a deal with me. If we visited Chatham first, we could go to any other college I was interested in with her full support.

    I never visited another college. The minute I set foot on campus, I knew it was the place for me. My mother was right (something, I remember, that was hard for a 17 year old to admit). Before I left, I signed up to take classes as a high school scholar and took a communications and philosophy course as a senior in high school. I still discuss that philosophy class to this day. I couldn’t wait for the fall semester to start so I could get back to campus as a full time student. I learned much more in those two courses than I did in high school. I was impressed by my fellow students and felt comfortable sharing my opinion in a classroom for the first time in my life. I never applied to another college or university.

    Throughout my remaining years at Chatham, I was offered opportunities that I would have never had otherwise. I assisted with the development of the Chatham Ambassador program in 2005/2006 which lead to the increase in enrollment that you cite in 2008. I helped to develop the Chatham Chapter of the American Marketing Association my senior year. In addition to being a member of the first Scholars class (and graduating class), completing 3 semester internships, sitting as a class representative on Conduct Board my senior year, and was a Resident Adviser my junior year. I had the opportunity to travel with Chatham Abroad to Russia – still the farthest I have been in the world and an experience that changed my life. Many of my classmates were involved in a larger variety of activities and maintained better grades than I, I do not mean to sound as if my experience was unique. I can I guarantee in a larger environment I wouldn’t have been the same person who sought out those opportunities – Chatham encouraged me to be a leader and then gave me the tools to do it. I use myself as an example to illustrate the personal experience you receive at a single-sex institution, in an environment that allows women to flourish. That is the experience that you have failed to sell. I would like to see a reference for the statistic that you cite stating that only 2% of students are interested in a women’s college, but regardless I do not see that as a reason to abandon Chatham College for Women. That statistic proves that more outreach to high school students is needed by both alumnae and the college alike – something that we have been asking to assist with for some time. Why were no attempts made for collaboration, if the institution was struggling?

    Without being provided any data to prove that this issue has been thoroughly researched, I see this decision as a failure of the administration to uphold the values that I, as an alumnae, entrusted you to protect. I cannot support Chatham University in a decision to seek co-education at the undergraduate level. I look forward to discussing this issue and receiving answers to my questions, and the many questions raised by my fellow alumnae.

    Sarah Stulga
    Class of 2008

  78. Marisa says:

    I have now attended 3 of the available town halls- 2 in person and 1 on the web and I’ll be on the web again tonight. Little of what I heard in those venues leads me to believe that there is any chance of Chatham University remaining committed to Chatham College for Women. Largely because it seems as though the board and President Barrazone have at the very least decided in a direction for the University and that direction is co-education. This is disheartening to me, as I’m certain that if alumnae had been told of the dire fiduciary concerns and enrollment trends we all could have stepped up sooner.

    Indeed, in looking back through communications from Chatham, all the news looked great- new programs, new schools– nothing indicating a plummeting enrollment in the women’s college or an unsustainable subsidy.

    However, since the board and Chatham have invited proposals, and insist that this feedback blog is the mechanism for those proposals, here is my final one.

    Dr. Barrazzone has cited multiple institutions that have remained single sex- either being big name and having a huge endowment (Bryn Mawr is the one that gets cited often) or by having diversified to meet changing needs in the communities that they are in (Mount St. Mary’s, Trinity etc). My proposal is thus. Create Associates degrees at the undergraduate level that feed into undergraduate STEM Bachelor’s degrees and then into health science graduate programs. By doing so, you are ensuring at least a 5 year tuition committment from a student and also ensuring that she has a degree where she can earn money while in school.

    Let’s look for a moment at Physical Therapy for how this might work. So, a woman could start as an undergrad in PTA. A tract that has the earning potential upon graduation from a 2 year program of about $19.00 an hour. Certainly, with the commitment Pittsburgh has shown to growing its hospitals and health care students would be able to find employment- thus making this tract attractive given how desperately (according to the presentations) that parents and students are looking for a return on investment. Then, while working, students might continue on a tract of either a STEM career or an allied health career where they continue their work at the undergraduate women’s college in the sciences. Finally, these students could be admitted into Chatham University Graduate School – into the DPT track.

    Additionally, the other schools noted as successful have been successful because they have recruited students who needed access to education-often students who were underprepared or from low income situations. There is no reason why Chatham couldn’t actively recruit student in need of developmental work in math, writing, or reading. Indeed, as Chatham has already made SAT’s option for admission- moving to a fully portfolio based entrance would allow the institution to be selective in looking at the potential for success of these students and bringing them to campus.



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  81. Sally Davoren says:

    Looks like Carlow University beat Chatham to the punch by announcing plans for a new Institute for Women’s Leadership and Empowerment – see article in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Sounds a lot like the Chatham “Institute for Leadership and Gender Equality” proposed above, but more geared toward women. Maybe Chatham students should cross-register, or just move up the street.

  82. Sandra Smith Lyter says:

    It seems reasonable for Chatham to enroll male undergraduates due to the declining enrollment numbers of women. The world has changed and Chatham must move forward in whatever way the trustees deem necessary in order to provide excellent education. I approve of this intended move.

    Sandra Smith Lyter
    Class of ’59

  83. Kathleen A Ferraro Class of 1972 says:

    This is a beautifully written and extremely persuasive piece, I wish you had signed your name. kathleen.a.ferraro

  84. Brit Brown says:

    Going co-ed would me needing full time faculty staff not adjuncts. You’ll need full completed majors. Not pieces of majors and making your students take the rest of their classes at other schools and hoping they get all their required classes so they can graduate in time. That right there is what past and current students are dealing with. We need to fix the issues with our own students first or you won’t have any (AGAIN WE). Yes Ms. President and board members we can fix this together. Going co-ed is putting yourselves in a deeper hole than you’ll be able to get out of an it’ll be all on YOU!

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