Huntington College Changes to University Status

Marking the change from a college to a university with a school-wide ceremony, Huntington University celebrated a new name, but held onto its foundational traditions.

Huntington College re-opened as Huntington University on Sept. 1 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and chapel service. Around 200 alumni, trustees, students, and guests attended the ceremony, and over 700 gathered for the chapel service, to recognize the institution’s heritage and future in education and service.

The Christian liberal-arts institution was founded in 1897 as Central College by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. It later changed its name to Huntington College in 1917.

Last October, the Huntington College Board of Trustees decided to change the name of the institution yet again, this time to Huntington University. The name change “reflects what we have already become and what we yet will be,” commented President Dr. G. Blair Dowden.

“Huntington’s growth – in size, complexity and prestige – makes the move to university status the natural next step in the institution’s development.”

Trustees voted against an earlier proposal in 1995 to change from college to university status. Since then, however, the institution has increased enrollment by more than 50 percent and expanded its graduate and professional programs. The institution currently offers more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees and concentrations, with seven new programs added in spring 2004. The institution has also been ranked as one of the best Christian Colleges in America for 11 consecutive years.

A yearlong study was undertaken by a Board-appointed task force to examine the change from college to university status. The task force found that since 1980, there has been a nationwide trend of colleges changing to university status. In addition, 17 out of the 20 top institutions with which the institution competed for students were universities.

Unlike in 1995, the trustees and most of those surveyed – including students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and representatives of the local community – endorsed the change from college to university status, saying it would bring more prestige to the institution.

Despite the change in name and increased growth, Huntington University officials vow that the traditions of the school will remain the same.

“Huntington will always be an institution that stresses the Christian faith and the liberal arts as the foundations of its educational programs. We will always challenge students to integrate faith, learning and service,” said President Dowden. “In short, our name may change, but our mission will not.”