President Susan Burns stood atop the balcony on Founders Hall as she counted down over the sounds of cheering. She shouted “one” and the new banner was unveiled — the University of Mount Saint Vincent.
“I know we’re all cold but I’m so excited to share this moment with everybody,” Burns said. After the banner was displayed Dr. Burns called on the crowd to sing along with the alma mater.
“Cheer for the white and gold, proudly our banners unfold,” the crowd boasts and sways while waving their UMSV pendants.
Administrators, professors, and students on Jan. 22 witnessed the unveiling of the banner and joined the celebration in a new start for the institution as it turned from the College of Mount Saint Vincent to the University of Mount Saint Vincent.
Brad Crownover, an associate professor and director of the theatre and performing arts program at the Mount, loved getting to see the Sisters of Charity on campus. “Thinking about what they started here and the importance of this institution, especially in a time when a lot of women couldn’t attend college,” Crownover said.
The Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York founded the Academy of Mount Saint Vincent, the first of its kind in New York, a higher education institution for women in 1847. The school became what it is today through the consistent commitment of the sisters to a liberal-based education “based on the conviction that the liberal arts offer the finest preparation for a life of accomplishment, responsibility, leadership, and service.”
Though the mission has stayed the same over its 175-year history, the school has grown and expanded over time creating a coeducational environment, revising curriculum, adding majors, growing partnerships, and more.
“This kind of constant evolving of the place. This feels like an important step in the evolution of the institution,” said Crownover.
In December 2021 the New York Board of Regents ultimately decided on the changed definition of a university. They cited receiving nudges over many years from multiple New York State colleges to revise the definition. They narrowed it down to four overall issues on the matter.
At the time New York was the only state requiring a doctoral program at a school to qualify as a university. Institutions also believed that the term “college” was confusing for international students. Compared to other states with broader definitions of the term “university” or no distinct difference between colleges and universities, New York offered a stark contrast.
New York institutions believe using the university moniker markets better and as such out of state universities are drawing their potential students away, schools that New York institutions feel offer less than their wide array. Schools outside of the state do not meet the state’s own definition of a university. Included in the observations of New York institutions was the confusing use of the word university in names and marketing such as Alfred State College State University of New York.
Comparatively, the state of New Jersey defines a university as “an institution of higher education that provides undergraduate studies leading to the baccalaureate degree in a broad range of academic disciplines, as well as graduate studies leading to advanced degrees in at least three academic and/or professional fields.”
New York’s definition still requires a university to maintain at least three graduate-level programs in pre-determined areas of study. The Board of Regents was open to hearing the complaints of the state’s schools and altering the definition. However, they did not wish to budge on the higher standard of education and range of offerings they felt set them apart from other state schools.
Nicarauma Rowe, a junior at the school, said he feels excited about the change. “It’s a big change. I would say 175 years is a long time,” Rowe said. “I think it’s good for the college, for us.”
Gary Peña, a sophomor, agreed with Rowe about the excitement. He added that being part of the change feels big because in years to come as the school’s success continues he’ll be proud to say he was part of the inaugural university class.
“We’re part of the new university history,” Rowe chimed in.
The university’s strategic plan through 2025 lists five attainable goals to better the institution. Among those is a commitment to expand awareness of the institution to engage a bigger audience and further its target audience. The change from college to university is part of this move towards expansion and growth.