Today, the University of Lynchburg Board of Trustees made the historic decision to change College’s name to the “University of Lynchburg” at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year. The Board also directed the reorganization of the undergraduate program’s academic structure, creating the University of Lynchburg of Arts and Sciences to honor this name in the history of the institution.
The Board’s decision follows adoption of Vision 2020, the institution’s new strategic plan and capitalizes on the institution’s status and ranking as a university. By virtue of its undergraduate, professional and graduate degree offerings, the College is currently classified as a university by the Carnegie foundation and ranked 35 among regional universities in the south by US News and World Report.
“Because of my love for Lynchburg, I always approach every choice I face on the board with the question: ‘What is best for University of Lynchburg?,’” said Polly Flint, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. “’What course of action will provide the best education today and in the future? Do our actions align with our core values and our mission? What will preserve or strengthen our financial footing, enabling us to offer a Lynchburg education to yet another generation? I believe the name change serves our best interests and will help to ensure that we not only succeed but thrive in our second century.’”
The change recognizes the College’s purposeful, constructive growth over the past 114 years, including the increase in academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. The new name more accurately reflects the institution’s status as a regional university prepared to serve students from throughout the United States and around the world with programs ranging from baccalaureate to doctoral degrees. Guided by Vision 2020, the strategic plan adopted in October 2016, the University of Lynchburg will strive for national leadership in student engagement.
“Our college has always embraced changes that helped us fulfill our mission to prepare students for successful engagement in every aspect of life,” said Dr. Kenneth R. Garren, president. “We have adapted to the needs of students and the realities of the higher education landscape, allowing our community to thrive for more than 100 years. Claiming our status as a university continues this tradition, reflects our academic offerings, and will help us attract students from more parts of the nation and the world.”
Founded in 1903 as Virginia Christian College, the institution became University of Lynchburg in 1919. In the 1960s, the College began offering graduate programs and undertook fundraising and building campaigns that expanded the campus. In the past two decades, the College has expanded its graduate programs — including two doctoral programs, and a third that will begin this summer, increased the diversity of its student body, and established an international presence training teachers in St. Lucia and attracted a growing number of students and faculty from around the world. In April 2015, the College’s Strategic Planning Committee proposed that the Board of Trustees consider claiming university status.
Dr. Sally Selden, vice president and dean for academic affairs, said that the change reflects the alignment of the institution’s identity and academic offerings with international standards in an increasingly global economy. “Claiming our status as a university will align our name with our academic offerings and enable us to attract and recruit more students, deepening our educational programming,” she said. “A cornerstone of Vision 2020 is to be recognized nationally as a leader in student engagement. As the University of Lynchburg, we will maintain a student-first environment focused on deep and meaningful academic and co-curricular engagement.”
As they guide the institution through the coming transition, faculty and staff will continue to put the student experience first. “We have been considered a university for many years, during which time we have increased the quality of programs that serve students with personal attention and engaging experiences,” Dr. Garren said. “Acknowledging our university status in our name will not change that. The Board of Trustees has charged me to lead the faculty and staff in making our institution one of the best in the nation for student engagement, and I wholeheartedly commit myself to that mission.”