Simmons College finalizes plans to transition to a university
- Simmons College, a small, women's college in Boston, will transition to Simmons University Sept. 1. Provost Katie Conboy said in a recent phone interview that the college will refocus to highlight the things it does well and position itself to recruit international students, who often associate the term "college" with high school-level coursework.
- As part of the process, the institution undertook a complete academic redesign to consolidate the number of schools — which were really more like large departments — and focus on building a structure that provides a more community-oriented delivery to the students on campus, with a renewed focus on graduate students, who outnumber undergraduates by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio.
- The redesign was intended to promote a better marriage of traditional liberal arts classes and professional programs like nursing. One example Conboy gave was focusing the health sciences programs around a theme of health equity, which infuses the social sciences with political science and sociology with health science. Additionally, she said, her team hopes to put more emphasis on inclusive leadership throughout all departments and schools. And finally, though she admitted Simmons has some more work to do in this area, she said the team hopes to get students to think more about how to handle problems and issues in their backyard as well as around the globe.
A few years back, Conboy said, the vice president of undergraduate enrollment, facing a particularly low-enrollment year, was tasked with creating a robust international recruitment policy. When he finished creating the plan, he said the institution was not in a place to implement it, suggesting there were things it needed to strengthen before seeking women from other countries.
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