Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Douglass College Saved-Sort Of: Following a Strong Outpouring of Support from Alumnae, Rutgers' Women's College Retains Its Identity

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Douglass College Saved-Sort Of: Following a Strong Outpouring of Support from Alumnae, Rutgers' Women's College Retains Its Identity

Article excerpt

When Rutgers University President Richard McCormick proposed a radical reorganization last year to consolidate the undergraduate colleges into a single School of Arts and Sciences, reaction was immediate and strong, especially from Douglass College.

Douglass, the women's college at Rutgers, was unwilling to give up the status it had held since it was founded in 1918 as the New Jersey College for Women.

Determined to preserve Douglass as the college "where women learn to lead," Carmen Twillie Ambar, dean of the college, and several of the university's female faculty offered counter-proposals. The "Save Douglass College" campaign, initiated by the Associated Alumnae of Douglass College, included a Web site, letters to alumnae and on-campus rallies. The campaign resulted in more than 50,000 e-mail messages being sent to McCormick, university board members and state officials.

In March, the board of governors approved McCormick's plan, with a slight change: unlike the other campuses, Douglass College would retain its name. Sort of.

Under the new plan, Livingston College and Rutgers College will become campuses of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Cook College will become the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Douglass, however, will morph into the Douglass Residential College at the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year.

"The word 'residential' gives us pause," says Ambar, who says the term may mislead potential students into thinking they cannot attend the college and live off campus. University officials say the term residential is to connote a "living, learning community."

Still, advocates are pleased with the outcome.

"We've saved Douglass as it is today, with a few minor adjustments, but I think we (lid it," says Sheila Kelly Hampton, who as president of the Associated Alumnae helped lead the effort to retain college status for Douglass. "With this implementation, I am confident we will go forward."

McCormick sought the reorganization to create a "more coherent, less confusing ... academic environment for all students," he said when announcing the initiative. …

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