Jonathan Peri, Esq., vice president and general counsel at Neumann,
and Dr. Rosalie Mirenda, Neumann’s president, are surrounded by the thousands of pages in the application
for university status that the college submitted to the Pennsylvania Department
of Education on April 10.
Peri was responsible for gathering, organizing, and editing all of the
information required by the state.
Neumann College has submitted an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to begin the process necessary to attain university status. The application and thousands of pages of extensive background material were delivered to PDE offices in Harrisburg on April 10.
The decision to file the application came in October 2007, when the College Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of pursuing university status. This conclusion came after a year of research and discussion, including a perception study in which every constituency polled agreed that Neumann College should seek to become a university. Groups supporting the transition included College alumni, current students, and faculty.
The next step in the application review process is for the PDE to schedule a team to conduct a campus visit, likely during the 2008-09 academic year. The team will compile its findings and issue a report to both the PDE and the College. If the report is favorable, notice of the intended status change will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and 30 days set aside for public comment before the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education can approve the new designation.
The reasons for the change are many. “First, Neumann is at a place in its history where it deserves university status,” explains
Dr. Rosalie Mirenda, College president. “University status is perfectly congruent with Neumann’s mission and strategic plan. In addition, we already meet the criteria for recognition as a university.”
In Pennsylvania, those criteria do not include any stipulation regarding size or enrollment. Some relevant benchmarks are that a university must provide study of the arts and sciences at the undergraduate level, a minimum of five professional programs at the graduate level, and access to cultural facilities and opportunities for the community.
Neumann has an undergraduate division of arts and sciences (as well as business, education and nursing divisions) and six graduate-level professional programs. In addition, the Arts Guild provides dozens of musical, theatrical, artistic and intellectual programs each semester, all of which are open to the community.
“Becoming a university will also enhance Neumann’s image in the Philadelphia region, one of the most competitive higher education markets in the country,” explains Dr. Mirenda. A nationally known research firm conducted a perception study for the College in 2007. Among those surveyed were Philadelphia area college-bound students who never inquired about admission to Neumann and similar students who inquired about Neumann but who did not apply. The principal intent was to gauge perception about the differences, in general, between a college and a university.
In both groups, significantly more students thought that a university was more challenging, more prestigious, and offered stronger majors and better career preparation than a college.
Since 2000, sixteen Pennsylvania colleges have become universities, including Misericordia (2007), Waynesburg (2007), Holy Family (2004), Immaculata (2002), Seton Hill (2002), and DeSales (2001).