Rationale Statement

College to University: Advantages


  • Based on research, Heidelberg’s senior administration and Board of Trustees agrees and understands that a higher degree of prestige and name recognition will come with the name Heidelberg University.
  • Universities are more highly regarded than colleges by employers and graduate schools.
  • Research indicates that “university” creates a higher level of visibility and will enhance our ability to recruit and retain students, and attract new faculty.
  • The perception of “university” is viewed more favorably abroad by the international student population Heidelberg is actively recruiting. As we convey the message of the Heidelberg experience to students in other cultures, we must be aware that “college” is traditionally perceived in these cultures as a technical school, a two-year institution or even a high school.


  • Among the top 12 institutions with which Heidelberg competes for students, 10 are universities.
  • Seventy-eight percent of the institutions in the Universities—Master’s (Midwest) category in U.S.News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges 2008 survey are universities.
  • Two-thirds of prospective students said they planned to enroll in a public or private university, not a college (Dehne and Associates, 2003).

Market forces

  • Between 1990 and 2002, more than 120 public and private four-year colleges have changed to university (The Review of Higher Education), and many more have changed since 2002.

Heidelberg’s mission

  • “University” is more closely reflective of the institution we have become, with graduate programs and schools (i.e. Business) and multiple campuses, and more accurately represents our curricular offerings.

Meeting demands of current generation of students

  • The colleges that have made the switch call the renaming a reasoned response to the demands of students, faculty and modern preferences (Mathews, 2003)
  • Also from Mathews: “College connotes a slow pace, cozy campuses, tweedy faculty, ivy-coated gothic-style buildings and a curriculum that runs to the classics. University denotes a bustling city of academic energy and scientific progress, with things always moving and shaking with an eye to the future …”

Constituent group support

  • Quantitative data from internal and external research indicates strong support for becoming Heidelberg University. From an internal survey (Burkholder, 2007) of alumni, current faculty, staff and students, only 22 percent disagreed with the name change.