At its mid-winter meeting on February 24, 2017, the Lynchburg College Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the institution to the University of Lynchburg in the fall of 2018. The board also asked for an academic restructuring wherein our current schools will become colleges within the university — most notably, this restructuring will include the Lynchburg College of Arts and Sciences.
The following information addresses questions from members of the Lynchburg College community.
How will the name change benefit the institution?
The name University of Lynchburg clarifies our mission and accurately reflects the range and quality of our graduate and undergraduate programs. The adoption of university in our name represents a logical next step for the College and will help to expand our market both in the United States and overseas.
We already operate as a university, and our name should reflect that. It is a natural progression. The need to showcase our academic quality, along with changes in the marketplace, were key factors in the board’s decision to formally recognize Lynchburg as a university.
Our current structure and fundamental characteristics more closely resemble that of a university than a college. Because Lynchburg has multiple schools within the College and offers a broad range of both graduate and undergraduate degrees, our structure is already aligned with that of a university.
At the board’s direction, as we carry out the academic restructuring, we will honor our long tradition as a liberal arts institution through the naming of the newly-formed arts and sciences division – the Lynchburg College of Arts and Sciences.
In order to grow enrollment, we seek to broaden our prospect pool both domestically and internationally. The term “university” is synonymous with higher education worldwide, whereas in many cultures, the word “college” is equated with high school or less prestigious institutions such as vocational or trade schools. International students may not consider Lynchburg as an option simply because of its “college” label. This was confirmed in focus group work with current international students.
“University” is considered to be more academically rigorous. External research conducted with prospective students indicates that high school students overwhelmingly correlate “university” with a wide variety of majors, more opportunities for extracurricular involvement, a better quality of educational experience, prestige and more qualified graduates.
By clarifying our mission and accurately reflecting our university-level academic offerings, we will continue to diversify our enrollment, leading to long-term financial sustainability.
Due to demographic changes (fewer undergraduate prospects) and increased competition (from both public and private institutions, especially universities), recruiting undergraduates in our current market over the next 20 years will be increasingly more challenging.
We can prepare for these challenges by extending our market for undergraduate recruitment, growing graduate enrollment and attracting more international students. The University name could help with all three:
63 percent of prospective students we surveyed said they would be more interested in learning more about “University of Lynchburg” than “Lynchburg College.” Once they decide to learn more about us, the campus experience and personalized education will bring them here.
Although our graduate programs have grown by more than 70 percent in the past decade, some potential students admit they did not know Lynchburg College had graduate programs. The University name makes graduate education more apparent.
More international students are looking to study in the United States, but they prefer to have the University name on their resume. (“College” refers to high school or trade school in most countries.)
International and graduate students typically depend less on financial aid, meaning that increasing those populations will help us with resources to maintain high-quality academic programs, support faculty, improve facilities, and provide financial aid to undergraduates.
When will the name change take effect?
Lynchburg College will become the University of Lynchburg in the fall of 2018.
Where did this idea come from?
The Strategic Planning Team (which includes faculty and staff) recommended that we explore the possibility of a name change in April of 2015.
Will the name change affect the liberal arts tradition at our core?
No, because the name change is solely a better outward reflection of the breadth of what we already offer. The liberal arts tradition—the core of the College over the last century — remains at the center of the Lynchburg experience. Our engaging curriculum and pedagogy make a Lynchburg education both special and prestigious, and it will remain true to form. Liberal arts colleges can evolve to become universities.
The newly-formed Lynchburg Collee of Arts and Sciences will serve as a reminder of our cherished traditions.
How will the name change impact the student-faculty relationship? Will class sizes increase? Will professors shift their focus to research?
We expect classes will grow in programs where there is capacity for growth, but we are committed to maintaining the classroom experience we’ve always offered.
We want to leverage technology to enhance the student-faculty relationship, not replace it.
There will be some growth in online programs, but the on-campus experience remains our focus.
Lynchburg faculty already are engaged beyond the classroom:
- publishing research (often conducted with students)
- presenting at conferences
- exhibiting work
- performing publicly
- attending workshops, seminars or other events
How does the name change affect admissions and admission standards?
Lynchburg’s role and mission will remain the same; a change in our name in and of itself will not necessitate a change in admission standards.
How does this impact transfer students?
Students who are considering transferring are more likely to choose Lynchburg, as the title of university is commonly associated with better academic programs, and more serious consideration is often given to a masters-level degree granting institution.
As a university, will we offer more graduate degree programs than we currently offer? Will we add any programs?
One of the reasons Lynchburg is changing its name is to showcase the graduate programs we already offer. While we are always exploring ideas and markets for new academic programs, there is no requirement that we add new graduate programs. A clear area of opportunity and growth for Lynchburg exists in the graduate market. Demographics tell us that the undergraduate pool is shrinking as competition for this diminishing pool is increasing. From a financial standpoint, the market for graduate programs offers the most opportunity.
Does the change from college to university mean the institution becomes larger and impersonal?
No. A change in name and status will not impact our commitment to keeping class sizes small in order to enhance the learning experience and promote student-faculty interaction. Lynchburg will remain true to its values: small classes, excellent instruction by tenured professors who care about their students (at the undergraduate and graduate level), a full liberal arts program of study, many co-curricular activities, a vibrant outdoor program, a great residential campus, and one of the best values in four-year higher education in Virginia and the southeast.
Does the name change increase the size of the student body?
Lynchburg seeks to grow a bit and more growth is expected in online and graduate programs. The change to university will increase our competitiveness in these important markets. Our newly-adopted strategic plan, Vision 2020, calls for moderate growth in enrollment and programming.
We currently have room for growth in both our graduate and undergraduate programs. More growth is expected in online and graduate programs. The change to university will increase our competitiveness in these important markets.
We are committed to keeping class sizes small in order to enhance the learning experience and promote student-faculty interaction.
Lynchburg will remain true to its values and traditions:
- small classes
- excellent instruction by tenured professors
- a full liberal arts program of study
- a wide range of co-curricular activities
- a vibrant outdoor program
- a great residential campus
- one of the best values in higher education in Virginia and the southeast.
- a Division III athletics program with a tradition of excellence
What is the difference between a college and a university?
The primary difference between a college and university is that colleges generally offer undergraduate programs while universities offer both undergraduate and graduate programs. Lynchburg has been offering graduate programs since 1964 and today offers some 16 master’s degree programs as well as 2 doctoral degrees – soon to be 3 with the addition of the Doctorate of Medical Science degree, DMSc.
Will the name change affect our classification for rankings (i.e., U.S. News & World Report)? What about “Colleges that Change Lives”?
No. Lynchburg’s classification for those rankings is pulled from higher education classification systems such as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. These systems take into account degrees offered, campus setting, size, number of campuses and various other considerations, none of which will change as a result of our moving to university status. Classifying and ranking agencies already categorize Lynchburg as a university.
For example, Lynchburg currently ranks #35 of more than 100 Regional Universities – South.
We are one of only 40 institutions featured in the book Colleges that Change Lives, and the book already includes schools with the university designation.
Will this result in higher or lower tuition?
No. Tuition costs will not be determined or affected by the name change. As part of its annual budget process, the College reviews a number of variables to determine if a tuition increase will occur.
Will degrees/diplomas say College or University?
Once the name changes, diplomas will say University of Lynchburg. Students enrolled during the transition period will be able to choose to receive either a Lynchburg College diploma or a University of Lynchburg diploma.
Do hiring companies in the region perceive a difference between the terms college and university when they review candidates?
The employers in the region with whom we work most frequently are familiar with the name Lynchburg, and a change from college to university is not likely to have a significant impact on their generally positive perception of our graduates. We do believe that for employers who are further away and less familiar with Lynchburg, this will have a positive impact.
What name will appear on my transcripts?
The University of Lynchburg will appear on all official transcripts for those graduating after the changeover.
Will the name change affect my student loans?
No. Student loans will not be affected.
Will the institutional logo change?
The logo will remain the same, while the word mark (the name of the institution) will change to reflect the new name and designation.
How do we refer to ourselves?
We will be known at the University of Lynchburg or simply, Lynchburg.
What happens to the College seal?
The seal will be updated to reflect the name change.
Will the new name affect the institution’s colors, mascot or athletic logo?
We recently introduced a new Hornet mascot and athletics logo with input from students. As the University of Lynchburg, we will retain these updated athletics image as well as our primary colors.
Will the Lynchburg website URL or email change?
No. lynchburg.edu will remain the domain for the University of Lynchburg website and email addresses. Our website will become the top search result for “University of Lynchburg” as we update our web presence to reflect the new name. Lynchburg College already is near the top result in organic search for University of Lynchburg.
Will our social media sites change?
The social media accounts and pages will be adjusted to reflect the name change.
Will the institution’s marketing be changed?
Yes. All communication and marketing efforts will be adjusted to reflect and capitalize upon our new name. Our core mission and values will not change and will remain at the center of our messaging. A name change is, in essence, a rebrand. This long-term campaign will solidify and expand our place in the market and clearly communicate who we are as an institution.
Are there extensive additional costs associated with the name change?
There will be costs involved with the changeover although every effort will be made to absorb these cost in normal budgets. We expect these costs to be anywhere from $375,000 to $525,000. This is just for the changeover. Our planning also calls for additional marketing resources to expand our reach in the market and be more competitive with our peers.
We plan to engage in a long-term marketing and branding effort that may cost as much as $3 million over four years. This gets us closer to our peers in spending and was being considered regardless of the name change.
Was research conducted on the acceptance and impact of the name change?
Yes. The idea of the move from college to university has been raised many times over the years. In 2015, the Board of Trustees asked that we begin a serious exploration of the question. That effort began with market research by the higher education marketing firm Lipman Hearne and continued with extensive outreach to students, faculty, staff and alumni.
As a university, will Lynchburg move up to Division I in athletics?
No. Lynchburg remains committed to NCAA Division III, which emphasizes growth opportunities for athletes that balance academic achievement, learning in high-level athletic competition, and development of positive societal attitudes in service to community.
Can alumni request new diplomas?
We are looking into this issue now.
Can I change my resume to reflect “university?”
Certainly, graduates may indicate that they graduated from Lynchburg College, now the University of Lynchburg.
Will campus signage change?
Yes, campus wayfinding signage will change and the entrance wall on Lakeside Drive will be updated to reflect our new name.
Will the board of trustees or executive structure change?
No, our administrative leadership structure would continue as it currently exists.
Did alumni and students have an opportunity to “vote” on the change?
Over the past two years, we have solicited feedback from all stakeholders – students, faculty, staff, alumni – on both the direction of our strategic planning effort, Vision 2020, and the possibility of a name change. The final decision was made by Lynchburg’s Board of Trustees.
Some of our stakeholders who were unhappy with the possibility of a name change, expressed concern that the decision had been made long ago and that the board vote was simply a formality. In reality, the board deliberated for most of the day before it arrived at its final decision. A majority of board members are alumni of the College and all took the feelings and opinions of our constituents to heart as they came to a final decision.
Why was the news on Facebook before I heard about it?
Alumni, students, faculty, and staff should have been the first to know.
We prepared two press releases and emails in advance (one for each possible outcome) so we could inform all of our constituencies immediately.
After the board voted, we finalized the release and email with links to a story posted on the College website so our email announcement could direct community members there for details.
While the email was processing through Net Community (our broadcast email system), some people found the press release and began sharing via social media. We posted it to Lynchburg College social media, preferring to have alumni find out from our social media rather than from news organizations or others who may see it.
We learned later that a good number of faculty and staff never received the email announcement. We are investigating this breakdown now.