University of Saint Joseph to open full time, undergraduate programs to men

WEST HARTFORD -- The University of Saint Joseph officials announced Wednesday that full-time, undergraduate programs will open for men in the fall of 2018.

This comes after the president of the University of St. Joseph , Rhona Free, said she was setting up a task force to consider making the college coed after enrolling only women for 84 years.

President Rhona Free sent a statement to FOX 61:

“This is a very exciting day for everyone associated with the University of Saint Joseph. With today’s decision, we reaffirm our commitment of educational excellence to our undergraduate women students, reinforce our culture of openness, diversity and inclusion established by our Sisters of Mercy founders, and continue our mission of responding to the needs and interests of today’s students.

“The data we received and analyzed during the last eight months was conclusive: by opening the admission process to all academically qualified students we would have significant opportunities to expand our undergraduate programs and increase the diversity of academic thought in the classrooms, while also providing a catalyst for a more active campus life. Studies show that less than one percent of full-time female college students today attend a women’s college and only two percent of female high school seniors say they would consider attending a women’s college. Admitting men will open our doors to 98 percent more women who would otherwise not even consider our high quality, distinctive educational experience here at USJ."

The University established 12 task force groups with each commissioned to research and document findings in their respective areas, such as: mission integration, academic programs and consortia, athletics, student life, and academic and administrative support.

Current students told FOX61 they were both excited and hesitant about the change.

“I think the dynamic will change a little bit but overall I think if you keep those professors and those staff really committed to empowering young women I don’t think it’s going to be a problem," Chelsey Cardillo, a junior at the school said.

“I think I’ll miss it a little bit but it will be a new challenge for us all and I think that challenging you and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is how you grow so I think that it might be a welcome challenge," Jourdan Stebbins, a junior studying public health said.

The university said they do not expect a need to build new dorms once they are officially co-ed, but that they will take input from students about the best way to integrate men into the current residence halls.  They are expecting only about 50 men to enroll at first.

The university already accepts men into its graduate programs and adult-learner programs.