Feedback, Questions and Links to Sources

Thank you to all who have provided feedback via, in letters and through calls to the Alumni Affairs office. All feedback is being categorized, recorded and will be shared with the Board of Trustees for their review. We have also received a number of questions and ideas as well. These are being organized and will be posted to the blog over the next two weeks.

In the meantime, we have received a few questions that we wanted to post now related to the sources of some of the external statistics shared in our communications to-date. They include:

What is the source of the statistic that states only 2% of high school girls say they would consider a women’s college? 

The 2% figure has been referenced in USA Today and other outlets in reference to studies by previous institutions who have gone co-ed.

At the same time, data is available via the College Board on over 7 million high school students registered with the College Board. The College Board helps more than 7 million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program.

Based on College Board data, there 3.9 million female students (53% of all students) in their system in the high school graduating classes of 2013 – 2017. Females who checked that “they are looking for an all women institution” across those graduation years is 1.7% or 1.9% for just juniors and seniors (graduating in 2014).

What is the source of the statistic that states Pennsylvania is the state with the highest number of women’s or “women centric” colleges in the country?

This is from data available via the Women’s College Coalition website listing of members by location.

What is the source of the statistic that states Pennsylvania has seen the number of college bound students peak in 2009 and is projected to have a 9% decline in college bound students over the next three years? 

This data is available via the website of the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education. On this site, you can download data and charts of the nation’s, regions, or specific state’s high school graduates data from Knocking at the College Door. According to this site, Pennsylvania peaked at 150,000 graduates in 2009-2010, has declined to 139,323 in 2013-2014, is expected to stay at ~ 137,000 for the coming years and is not forecasted to peak again until 2024/2025 (at 143,750 total students). Data on the national decline is also available on this site.

Please note correction from original release and earlier post: It is actually a 9% decline in high school graduates in Pennsylvania since the peak of 2009-2010 to 2014-2015 and a decline of less than 1% between 2014-2015 and 2016-2017. 

What is the source of the statement from Standard & Poor’s 2014 rating for the U.S. not-for-profit higher education sector? 

This is from the report, “Many Factors Burden The U.S. Higher Education Sector In 2014.”  The report overview states:

  • The sector faces growing challenges on several fronts that will require institutional change for many.
  • Typically slow to change, many colleges and universities will experience decreased credit quality in 2014.
  • We expect universities with diverse operations and strong financial resources to fare better than the overall sector.
  • The impact of affordability concerns on financial operations is greater for small private universities.

The statement on the difficulty for single-sex institutions can be found on page 7 of the report:

Specialty institutions
Typically defined by their niche programs that appeal to a much smaller subset or demographic, specialty institutions are incredibly varied in scope and performance. However, while schools of pharmacy or those related to health professions face increasing demand and will likely continue to perform quite well, others are facing sharply decreasing demand and faltering financial profiles. We expect the next few years to be particularly difficult for law schools, single-sex institutions, and small regional religious institutions.

How can one access publicly available financial records for the university?

To facilitate this request, audited financial statements and IRS 990 forms for the University have been posted on this page: 

  1. Chatham Alumna who took Math 101 says:

    After reading this blog post, I pulled out my dusty, antiquated TI-83 scientific calculator to do some number crunching (for all you younger folk, that’s what I had to use before I got smartphone with an app for that).

    The College Board data states that 3.9 million female students are in graduating classes for 2013 through 2017. Let’s use the more conservative number of female students who checked the “looking for an all women’s institution” box and say that number was 1.7%.

    3,900,000 x 0.017 = 66,300

    Of the 3.9 million female students graduating between 2013 and 2017, 66,300 are actively searching for an all women’s institution.

    If we use a scientific and statistical principal called “assumption” and assume that these 66,300 evenly apply to the 50 or so women’s colleges in the United States, that would mean that (66,300 divided by 50) each women’s college could receive 1,326 applications.

    Note: This assumption presumes that each woman only applies to one women’s institution and that the applications are evenly distributed among 50 women’s colleges. This assumption does not account for inequalities in applications across institutions, nor does it account for female students submitting an application to more than one women’s college.

    Now, let’s look at another number. The $4.5 million the administration spent on recruiting for Chatham College for Women. It’s been stated that the average cost in recruitment per student is $7,000.

    $4,500,000 divided by $7,000 = 643 (642.86 rounded to a whole person)

    That means that Chatham spent its $4.5 million of recruitment funds on 643 students.

    If Chatham actively recruited 643 students out of a possible 66,300 female students actively seeking a women’s institution, that is less than 1%.

    Less than 1% of the 2%. Let that sink in for a minute.

    Chatham recruited to less than 1% of women who indicated to the College Board that they were actively seeking an all women’s institution.

    Assuming that Chatham spent all of its $4.5 million recruiting only women who checked a box, that means that no recruitment money was spent on the 3,833,700 female students (otherwise known as “the 98%”) who did not check the box.

    Sounds like millions of missed opportunities to me. But what do I know? I’m having trouble understanding the uninterpreted data.

  2. Math 102 says:

    You are twisting the math a bit. The University actually actively recruits thousands of students, but to get the average cost per student figure, you take the total spent and divide by the number who actually enroll. This means the numbers do work when you look at how many students have deposited and showed up over the past few years.

  3. Kelly McKown says:

    If it’s $7,000 per student enrolled versus recruited isn’t that even worse? What methods are being employed to yield such lackluster results? And what are the innovative methods the college has examined to reduce cost per enrollee?

  4. Chatham Alumna who took Math 101 says:

    Dear Chatham Staff Member (who obviously took a different math class than I did):

    Thank you for the clarification. Surely you can understand my confusion in calculating the “true” cost of recruitment per female high school student, given that the University does not give priority to transparency with supporting material. So perhaps the misunderstanding is not in my “twisting the math” or my rusty old calculator, but rather the math that the University uses to attribute recruitment dollars to each prospective high school student.

    How many (I would like a number please) is “thousands of students?” Two thousand? Three thousand? Fifty thousand? If the University is spending $4.5 million to recruit “thousands of students” and current enrollment of undergraduate students is only 541, this clearly suggests a mismanagement and inefficient use of the recruitment funds. Perhaps if the University invested some of the $4.5 million in recruiting and retaining admissions staff, including a Vice President of Admissions (a position that has been vacant for a number of years), the University would be armed with representatives for the College for Women that could effectively spend the money targeting students likely to enroll at and graduate from Chatham College for Women.

  5. Jaya Lakshminarayanan '00 says:

    The 2% statistic still seems beside the point. Many of us who attended Chatham were “98-percenters” as it were, but chose Chatham because we were actively recruited.

    Also, I like to get my important statistics from sources more scholarly and more reliable than USA Today.

  6. Tricia Chicka says:

    The link here isn’t linking properly, so I’m listing it again:

    Copy-paste if it doesn’t work folks!

  7. Amy says:

    It is my understanding that the University turned off Wifi access during the initial student announcement of the co-ed proposal. Could we get any assurances that tomorrow and next week’s meetings will not be similarly limited by the University?

  8. Chatham Mod says:

    Hi Amy,

    That is untrue. The University did not disrupt Wifi access during the initial student announcement nor will there be any restrictions to access throughout the campus during the upcoming meetings.

  9. Alfred says:

    Massachusetts also has five women’s colleges so it is a bit misleading to say that Pennsylvania is the state with the highest number of women’s colleges as “the state” implies the only one.

  10. Katharine says:

    In high school, I was absolutely committed to going to a larger co-ed school. But then a family friend told me to look at Bryn Mawr. From filling out the application to the alumnae interview, to the welcome packet, I knew that Bryn Mawr would be a wonderful place for me. Many of my friends at Bryn Mawr similarly didn’t look for a women’s college, but found that Bryn Mawr, of which being single sex is one important part, was a great place. One wanted to study physics and turned down Swarthmore and Stanford because she wanted a cooperative environment. Another was drawn to the exemplary leadership opportunities at Bryn Mawr…

    I am saddened that misuse of these statistics may end the uniqueness of Chatham.

    Katharine Gordon
    In solidarity
    Bryn Mawr College 2001

  11. Sandy Kuritzky says:

    Thank you for your support Katharine!

    I continue to believe a small, single-sex college is not for everyone, but for that select number, it an important factor in their development and education. I credit the nurturing environment of the single-sex Chatham to the woman I became. At one time, Chatham’s marketing literature referred to “world ready women”. We, (and Bryn Mawr), created an environment where women could grow intellectually, without fear of being “over taken” or put down intellectually by men.

    Many of us have experienced the age-old cliché – while men are strong and assertive; women are pushy or (w)itchy. Chatham provided me with the intellectual foundation to gather my “facts” and promote my cause, beliefs, and myself. I was a member of Chatham’s class of 1973; I lived gender discrimination in the work-place, and was, in some respects, a pioneer for our gender in my chosen career. I sincerely doubt that I would have achieved my level of professional expertise, had it not been for my Chatham education.

    Again, thank you for your support.

    Sandy Kuritzky
    Chatham Class of 1973

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