*The proposed model change explored options to expand enrollment and preserve a sustainable future at Converse. Converse opted to move forward with the model and name change, and made the announcement on February 7, 2020.
In 2019 and 2020 Converse College President Krista Newkirk hosted several town hall meetings on campus for students, faculty and staff to discuss the option of adding a co-educational residential undergraduate program alongside Converse’s historic single-gender program.
As part of its strategic plan 2018-2023, the Board of Trustees will appoint an ad hoc committee to study options to expand Converse’s enrollment in light of the impending 15% decline of high school graduates and the challenges facing higher education. The committee will also study a possible name change to Converse University given that Converse has recently become a doctorate-granting institution with a new doctoral program in professional leadership, in addition to its existing 55-year strong graduate programs and extension site at the University Center of Greenville.
“Cultural shifts, population trends, and different expectations for student engagement are prompting more single-gender colleges and universities like Converse to expand enrollment. Currently only 2% of female, college-bound high school students will consider a single-gender college,” said Newkirk. “Today we began engaging with our students, faculty and staff to get feedback as a strategic recommendation is created for the future.”
The ad hoc committee will be meeting with key constituencies over the next several months and will return a report to the full Board of Trustees before the end of 2019.
“The Board of Trustees has set a strong vision for the future of Converse,” said Phyllis Perrin Harris ’82. “Our strategic plan supports the evolution of Converse, with a priority placed on preserving the most important aspects of our historic single-gender mission while growing our base of students and programs.”
Students attending the town hall meeting reacted with optimism.
“Students choose Converse for its empowering education and leadership opportunities, not just the all-women’s experience,” said Tyerra Clayborne ’20, incoming Converse Student Body President. “It’s exciting to learn how expanding enrollment will help to strengthen Converse.”
Following the town hall meetings, President Newkirk will announce plans to embark on a tour to select cities to visit with alumnae/i and donors.