Rochester College or Rochester University? Survey now closed.
The survey closed Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m.
A Presidential Proposal: Rochester College or Rochester University?-
by Rebekah Haigh-
When you hear the word ‘college,’ what do you think? Community college? Four-year institution or two-year institution? What about the word ‘university’? Do you immediately associate words like: prestige, expense, graduate school…or do you even care?
Well your opinion matters because President Rubel Shelly has a proposal: “I’d like for you to give me your feelings, feedback, on the idea — the advisability — of our changing our name from Rochester College to Rochester University.”
He believes that this might be the season for such a change. “Twenty-five years ago, there was a gentleman’s understanding that university was for big schools with schools of education, and schools of medicine, and schools of this and schools of that. Undergraduate teaching colleges that focus on bachelors-level work tended to be called colleges,” Shelly said. It is his opinion that such a “gentleman’s understanding” is slowly becoming history, largely because of the community college phenomenon.
“In the last several years, our recruiters in the Midwest and Great Lakes area have been running into a problem: They are having to spend too much time clarifying to potential students that Rochester College is a four-year degree granting institution- not a two year community college,” Shelly said. “The term ‘college’ is creating ambiguity; they hear ‘college’ and think it’s a two-year school, a junior college.” The word “university” sounds so much more sophisticated, one RC student told Shelly. “I just thought a university has got to be better than a college,” she wrote to him in an e-mail.
Imagine the confusion if Oakland University were named Oakland College! After all, when many people think of “Oakland College,” they think of the nearby community college. The name “Oakland University,” on the other hand, preserves its distinction as a four-year college. Plus, as some students have pointed out, “university” simply sounds a bit more prestigious.
“There are lots of schools with three and four hundred students that call themselves universities. And, by contrast, there are a few rather big academic enterprises — with large graduate programs — that still call themselves colleges,” Shelly said. “There never was a rigid distinction between college and university.”
RC’s name has even caused confusion with international students. Shelly noted that one of the Chinese gentlemen who arranges for Chinese students to attend schools in the U.S. “recoiled from the idea that students ready to do university-level work would be attending Rochester College because in China ‘college’ means high school,” Shelly said. “It dawned on me — I think while I was having that conversation — “you’ve been wrong about resisting the name change!”’
RC definitely meets all the requirements of Michigan’s governing body for post-secondary education to make the name change. In fact, Shelly noted that RC now has professional schools in place for disciplines such as nursing, education, and business. RC is also working on adding additional graduate programs beyond the M.R.E. currently offered by the School of Biblical Studies.
However, Shelly is not trying to force a name change. “I don’t think that’s a decision for one person to make unilaterally. I could simply go to the board, get a resolution, file the papers, and change our signage. We would be Rochester University at that point. I don’t think I should do it that way. I think I should take your pulse and ask students about their preference,” he said. “I really do want to do what will reflect the sentiment of the folks who live and work, study and teach here. I don’t want it to be about my judgment alone.”
The ball is in our court now, so please get involved in the discussion! RC or RU? The decision is yours. PLEASE TAKE THE SURVEY BELOW: