COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A 166-year-old women’s college in South Carolina has decided to admit men as residential students, possibly as early as fall 2021.
Columbia College has co-ed evening, graduate and online programs, but this will be the first “co-ed residential day program,” college spokeswoman Erika Dawkins said in a news release after the board of trustees voted on Friday.
President Carol Moore said the school in Columbia will keep its designation as a women’s college by letting women choose to attend co-ed or women-only classes.
That’s likely to remain an option as long as class sizes allow it, Moore said. She said this will be particularly important in science, math and technology, where the industry has been male-dominated and “not always woman-friendly,” the Post and Courier reported.
The school’s enrollment fell 17 percent from fall 2017 to fall 2018, to about 1,250 students.
“While enrollment is ‘a’ factor it’s not ‘the’ factor,” Moore said. She said surveys have shown a declining interest among 18- and 19-year-olds in studying at a women-only institution.
The college has seen several big changes in recent years. In 2016, the college eliminated five academic majors because few students chose them, and cut 80 staff positions, The State reported.