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York College gets new name, keeps enrollment near record

The Christian college is becoming a university in name to reflect its status as an accredited four-year institution with graduate programs.

York College — which is associated with Churches of Christ — is getting a new name.

The York, Neb., college reported Friday that it will become York University in the next year.

Its president, Sam Smith, said in the announcement before a crowd of more than 500 that this transition is the culmination of a process the college began 65 years ago.

Related: York College names new president

“Our institution has grown from being unaccredited to an accredited junior college to a four-year institution that also offers growing graduate programs,” Smith said. “It has taken years, and the time is right to move forward.”

Smith also said the transition will take place gradually over the coming months. Spring 2022 graduates are expected to receive York College degrees, but new students will be enrolling at York University beginning next fall.

York College President Sam Smith gives his inaugural presentation on the York campus on Sept. 24.

York College President Sam Smith gives his inaugural presentation on the York campus on Sept. 24.

The name change — which was decided by the college’s board of trustees in January — is accompanied by a fundraising campaign with a goal of $15.9 million, 80 percent of which has already been pledged.

The campaign is headed by alumni Richard and Rachel James and is intended to fund new student scholarships, campus renewal projects and academic resources.

But Smith said that while York’s name is changing, much is staying the same.

“Our institutional mission, identity, values, and vision will remain focused on transforming lives through Christ-centered education, equipping students for lifelong service to God, family, and society,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, York College reported near-record enrollment numbers this year, though they dropped slightly from 2020.

With a strong online presence, the college grew by 28 percent in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, soundly beating its previous record by more than 120 students as it reported an enrollment of 652.

For comparison, other private, nonprofit four-year colleges across the nation saw a decline in enrollment of 4.5 percent on average last year, according to College Board.

York College students sit and talk on the steps of a building on the university's campus.

York College students sit and talk on the steps of a building on the university’s campus.

For the new semester, York reported an enrollment of 648 — a small decrease. But it expects to see more growth in the coming year with recent additions to academic and co-curricular programs.

“We are blessed to have amazing students at York College and enrollment starts with them,” said David Odom, vice president for enrollment, in a separate York news release. “The challenges of COVID, and there are many, remind us all how important our connections with our students need to be. I’m grateful for the amount of work our faculty and staff dedicate each year to our enrollment efforts.”

York College, East 8th Street, York, NE, USA

At the same time, other Christian universities have seen increased enrollment this year. Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., previously reported its third consecutive year of growth, with an increase of 6 percent in enrollment compared to last year. Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, also reported growth for the fourth year in row, and Harding University in Searcy, Ark., reported an increase of 7.6 percent in enrollment this year after a decline last year.

More information on York’s new name and enrollment can be found on the university’s website.

Filed under: Christian universities enrollment News Partners Top Stories York College York University

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