Finances, enrollment trends figure in Hood coed decision

November 04, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

The decision by Hood College's Board of Trustees to admit men to the school's residence halls followed a comprehensive analysis of the college's finances, enrollment trends, marketplace statistics and data from other single-sex schools that switched to coeducation, said Dave Diehl, director of Hood's Office of Communications and Public Relations.

Hood President Ronald J. Volpe and members of the college's executive committee gathered and analyzed information from various Hood departments and the Women's College Coalition, the Maryland Independent College and University Association, the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the U.S. Department of Education and from personal interviews and telephone conversations with presidents, deans and other officials at women's and former women's colleges and universities.

More than 200 Frederick County high school juniors and seniors were also surveyed, Diehl said.

High points of those discussions included:

  • Financial models show that Hood will have an operating surplus by fiscal 2006 if resident males are allowed. A model for remaining a single-sex institution shows continuing operating deficits.

  • Ninety-seven percent of college-bound students prefer a coeducational institution. About 3 percent actively seek a women's college.

  • Only 1 to 2 percent of Hood students say they attend because it is a women's college.

  • There were about 300 women's colleges in the 1960s. Today there are fewer than 70.

  • Successful women's colleges such as Wellesley and Smith, both in Massachusetts, share high undergraduate enrollments of 1,000 to 3,000 students and endowments in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • Hood's current undergraduate enrollment is about 820 students, and the college's unrestricted endowment fund totals about $8 million, Volpe said.

  • With the exception of such schools as Smith and Wellesley, women's colleges in 2001 enrolled an average of 161 freshmen, former women's colleges enrolled an average of 373 new students and traditional coeducational colleges enrolled an average of 500 freshmen.

  • Hood enrolled 113 students last fall. Some 185 freshmen enrolled at Hood this fall, an increase Volpe attributed to aggressive recruitment by a group of new administrators and students and alumni.

  • Successful women's colleges tend to be close to coeducational institutions at which students can cross-register, socialize and participate in more extracurricular activities.

  • Hood is not located close to a coeducational college.

  • Hood competes for most of its students with coeducational colleges. Its biggest competitors are the University of Maryland College Park, Towson University, Frostburg State University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

  • Only eight of the 224 Frederick County high school students who responded to a Hood survey said they wanted to attend a single-sex college.

  • More than half of the respondents said Hood's status as a single-sex college was a negative factor.

  • One hundred twenty high school students said they would be more likely to attend Hood if it were coeducational.
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