PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Board of Trustees at Chatham University has voted to approve the admission of men to its undergraduate college for the first time in its 145-year-old history.
Opponents of the move unsuccessfully asked the university’s trustees to delay the vote, but it took place on Thursday afternoon.
The undergraduate college in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood was founded as the Pennsylvania Female College in 1869.
Officials say the freshman class has shrunk nearly 50 percent since 2008, and a college that once had more than 700 students could have fewer than 320 within five years unless the school goes co-ed.
Last month, Chatham University President Esther Barrazone said with shrinking enrollment and millions spent from the operating budget on financial assistance, it’s not just the present financial struggle, but a possibility that if nothing is done, the university could face closure.
However, many current students, alumni and staff disagree with the move.
Alumni have spoken out against this decision including Sara Grey. Grey was on the KDKA Afternoon News with Bill Rehkopf when the Chatham first began this process, speaking out about the idea to allow male enrollment.
“I’d say our graduates feelings more of grief at this point. We’ve been all experiencing that anger for quite a while now. We have attempted to communication with the college, to help find a solution and repeatedly have been ignored or dismissed. At this point it’s really about grieving for our college which no longer exists,” Grey said.
Chatham will begin accepting men at the undergraduate level starting in the fall of 2015.
The trustees also voted to establish the Chatham University Women’s Institute, which would combine entrepreneurship and political programs with new women’s health and gender studies programs.
The institute will be established with $8.5 million in funding.
Many people are looking for different channels to combat today’s decision. Grey and her fellow alumni have taken to social media and the inter-webs.
“I will be grieving for Chatham College for Women. I know that alumni are looking up alternative networks through social media that have no official affiliation with the school and I look forward to forever participating in that. It’s a sisterhood.” Grey said.
When asked if she would ever come around to support Chatham she told Bill Rehkopf.
“I really don’t think that’s going to happen. I think from now on I will give my money to institutions that support women.” Grey said.
Hear more with Sara Grey below: