Sunday, September 24, 2000

Ohio's Notre Dame College to welcome men

The Associated Press

        SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — For the first time in its 78-year history, the all-female Notre Dame College will welcome men as students.

        Trustees of the Catholic college in this Cleveland suburb voted Friday to start accepting men next semester. The unanimous decision by the 33-member board leaves Ursuline College in nearby Pepper Pike as the last women's college in the state.

        Notre Dame is the second women's college in the nation to announce plans to accept men in the past week. Earlier, the 81-year-old Emmanuel College in Boston said it would accept men.

        Notre Dame, founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame, said that like other women's colleges, it is opening its doors to men because fewer women are willing to attend same-sex schools.

        In the mid-1960s, there were more than 250 women's schools in the nation. Now there are fewer than 80. There are six men's colleges in the nation, none in Ohio.

        This year, Notre Dame has its second-highest enrollment, but only 213 of its 750 students are full-time women ages 18 to 22. The rest are mostly part-timers or are enrolled in the school's popular weekend college.

        Full-time enrollment is projected to decline further at the college, which specializes in education, science and business. A 5-year-old national survey showed that just 4 percent of junior and senior high school girls would consider going to a women's school.

        “The latest number I have seen is 1 percent,” said Anne Deming, the college's president. “That's the issue: The market is very, very small.”

        Notre Dame hopes adding men will give new life to the campus and fill the dorm, said Frederick W. Clarke, a TRW Inc. vice president who chairs the board of trustees.

        “We are in good fiscal health,” Ms. Deming said. “It's the right time to move. The objective is not to get a lot larger; the objective is to hold onto a niche as a small liberal arts school.”


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