St. John Fisher College considers making the switch to ‘University’

The New York State Education Department passed an amendment in January 2022 that changed the definition of a “university.”

According to the amended section, 

“University means a higher educational institution offering a range of registered undergraduate and graduate curricula in the liberal arts and sciences, including graduate programs registered in at least three of the following discipline areas: agriculture, biological sciences, business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professions, humanities, physical sciences and social sciences.”

The NYSED vote now allows St. John Fisher College to transition from a ‘college’ to a ‘university’.

According to an email sent to the campus community by President Gerard Rooney, “in 2010, St. John Fisher College was reclassified by the Carnegie Foundation as a Doctoral Research University – now referred to as Doctoral Professional University – based on the number of research doctorates awarded in 2008-09.”

This means that Fisher is already considered a ‘university’ in some areas based on the academic programs already offered.

“The Carnegie Foundation is a national organization that assigns designations to institutions based on size, degrees they offer, and complexity of the organization,” said Dr. Kevin Railey, Provost. “So, it’s kind of odd that in some places we’re considered a university and in other places we’re not.”

According to the Provost, not much would change other than the name of the school. “I don’t think anyone should expect that a lot would change in terms of athletics, in terms of the overall program array that we offer at the college, or the pricing,” said Dr. Railey. “Who we are, our mission, they wouldn’t change that much.”

Throughout the coming months, Fisher is planning to continue internal discussions within the college to gather information about how the campus community feels about the potential switch.

The Student Government Association discussed the possibility of university status during their last senate meeting of the 2021-2022 academic year. “In our senate meeting there wasn’t a lot of negative reaction,” said SGA President, Ian Klenk. “There certainly were questions about how it will affect the day to day life of a Fisher student, which really isn’t that much.”

“I personally am very in support of it,” said Klenk. “As a representative of the student body it’s important to represent their voice and since it’s really only positive discussions of it, I think the student government is in support of changing to a university.”

President Rooney’s email goes on to say, “This topic was also discussed by the Board of Trustees during the Board Retreat last week.”

The process after internal discussions would take about six month to get approved. After the college files a petition to New York State, they would need to wait for the reviewing and approval process to complete before making the official change.

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