Terre Haute Women-Only College Goes Co-Ed

May 19, 2015

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is the oldest Catholic liberal arts school for women in Indiana.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/_lisamarie_/4460973368

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is opening its doors to undergraduate male students for the first time in its 175-year history.

The Terre Haute-area school’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to go co-ed after a year of debate. The decision was partially motivated by a survey that found less than 2-percent of young women are willing to consider attending a women-only college.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods President Dottie King says the school was not able to make a single-sex learning environment appealing to applicants, despite several attempts to do so.

"We thought if we just marketed it right, or if we just created this program or that program, that it would make all the difference for us, but the reality is that has not proven to be true," King says.

The 1,700-person school has admitted men into its graduate program since 1984 and into its online classes since 2005, but that has not led to major enrollment increases, as the majority of students are undergraduates.

King hopes the school’s new policy will double enrollment. King also says she will create a team composed of students, alumnae, faculty, staff, and board members to help facilitate the change.