The Board of Trustees of Villa Julie College has voted unanimously to change the name of the institution to Stevenson University.
The decision follows the approval of the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) last month for university status for Villa Julie. One of the main components of the new University will be the Villa Julie College of Arts and Sciences, which will occupy the institution's original campus on Greenspring Valley Road in Stevenson.
The transition will occur gradually up until the official legal change early next year.
The University will keep the school colors of green and white, and athletic teams will continue to use the Mustang nickname and mascot. The Administration added that the athletic teams will use Stevenson University beginning with the 2008-09 academic year.
Institutional Name Change Q&A
Two Great Names In Higher Education
"After careful study and discussion over the past three years, the board felt the time was right for a name which better reflects the makeup of the institution," says Kevin G. Byrnes, Chair of the Board of Trustees. "We understand the importance and history of the Villa Julie name and are pleased it will remain as a major part of Stevenson University."
The College researched the possibility of a name change to better reflect the growth in student population, expansion to two campuses and addition of graduate level programs. Villa Julie now ranks as the third-largest independent undergraduate institution in Maryland, and has more than 500 students enrolled in its graduate and adult accelerated degree programs.
"I am confident the Board of Trustees has made the right decision," says President Kevin J. Manning, Ph.D. "This change will be difficult for some, but will ensure the College's continued success. We took tremendous care and concern to solicit feedback from our community and used extensive independent research to assist us in making a recommendation to the Board."
Research showed the name Stevenson appealed to diverse constituents by conveying prestige, tradition, and history. President Manning says the name Stevenson maintains a geographical connection to the founding location of Villa Julie.
Historically, the name also connects the institution's campuses in Stevenson and Owings Mills. Henry Stevenson, a prominent Baltimore grain merchant who founded Stevenson, later married Deborah Owings, granddaughter of the founder of the Owings Mill.
Now that the Board has made its final decision, work will begin on the transition from Villa Julie College to Stevenson University. A faculty committee will help develop the structure of new schools and programs, some of which will make up the Villa Julie College of Arts and Sciences.
A pair of Schools at the Owings Mills campus are already in place. The School of Graduate and Professional Studies was started in 2002 while the new School of Business and Leadership will open this fall, bringing together the information technology, business administration, accounting and paralegal studies programs.
"The administration has already developed a model for what the University might look like, but the faculty will now get a chance to help instill their vision for the future," says Paul D. Lack, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean. "The collaborative spirit of Villa Julie's history will play a significant role in creating the structure of Stevenson University."
The transition will occur gradually up until the official legal change early next year. The University will keep the school colors of green and white, and athletic teams will continue to use the Mustang nickname and mascot.
The decision follows record growth at Villa Julie over the past 10 years. The College has more than doubled its undergraduate enrollment since 1998 to more than 2,600 last fall. In 2004, Villa Julie opened a second campus in Owings Mills to accommodate the first-ever student housing complex in College history.
The Owings Mills campus now has around 1,200 residents in 10 residence halls. The campus also includes a sports and wellness center, a dining hall and student activities building, classrooms and administrative offices.