- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 9, 2006

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Randolph-Macon Woman’s College will change its name to Randolph College when it admits men next fall, officials announced yesterday.

Trustees of the 115-year-old private college voted in September to make the school coeducational and have received more than 1,000 suggestions on a new name.

“We voted unanimously to adopt a name that maintains continuity with our history as well as positions us for our future,” said Jolley Christman, chairman of the board of trustees.

Before the vote, about 100 people rallied in front of the campus to protest the name change and the college’s transition to coeducation. More than 400 people were assembled outside Main Hall to hear the announcement.

College officials originally planned to announce the name in October but delayed the decision to get additional suggestions, spokesman Dave Blount said. A task force of students, faculty, staff, alumnae and trustees chose the name.

“You don’t change your name very often,” Mr. Blount said. “We wanted to make sure we got a name that really spoke to the identity of the institution.”

The decision was complicated by the fact that the school could not simply drop “Woman’s” from the name. There already is a Randolph-Macon College, a coed and former men’s school in Ashland, about 130 miles away, just north of Richmond.

Trustees for the women-only college decided to admit men to achieve more financial stability. The college has had to dip into its $140 million endowment for operating funds.

Enrollment this fall is about 700.

Applications for next year are about the same as last year, Mr. Blount said, and the school has had “some interest from men” as first-year and transfer students. Officials expect recruiting to pick up with the announcement of the name change, he said.

The switch to a coeducational institution was met by fierce opposition from alumnae, students and some faculty. And nine students have filed suit claiming the board of trustees breached its contract with students. Their lawsuit seeks to delay enrollment of men until at least 2010, when current freshmen have graduated.

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