Dominican University New York, celebrating its 70th year, was known as Dominican College until three months ago. One month ago, Iona College, now in its 82nd year, became Iona University.
“The overall reaction to the news has been very, very positive,” said Sister Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P., president of Dominican University New York, of the May 17 announcement that the New York State Board of Regents had approved the name change. The school has received many notices of congratulations, she said, including from alumni who are “very proud that we’ve moved in this direction.”
She noted schools in New Jersey that Orangeburg-based Dominican plays in sports have university status. “Those schools that are outside of New York had gone the route of university ahead of us. We and many others in New York approached the Regents that we felt there would be a value in those schools who had desired to change from college to university.”
Several months ago, New York state reviewed the policies and changed the criteria, Sister Mary Eileen explained; namely, that the college had at least three areas where master’s and doctorate degrees were offered in addition to the baccalaureate, or bachelor’s degree. A second requirement was that the change from college to university be heavily supported by the college’s board of trustees. “When we brought that up at the board meeting, there was unanimous support,” she said.
Sister Mary Eileen cited several reasons for the desired change from Dominican College to Dominican University New York. Among them was the belief “that there was a certain prestige if an institution had been working for a long time, had the appropriate programs and was doing well, and met these criteria there would be a certain official approval, so to speak, that the school was in good standing.”
Further, she said, “the word college on the international scene, especially in Hispanic countries…is really the high school.” That distinction, she said, was important in terms of the potential to attract international students.
A “university” imparts recognition that good academic and student life programming is taking place, she added.
Dominican New York University has expended time and energy throughout the summer changing its external signage and now the internal signage changes are under way. Accrediting bodies had to be informed, as did banks, and a new charter had to be approved.
The diplomas of the graduates of the Class of 2022 read Dominican College, as commencement exercises were held May 15, two days before the name change was announced. However, those graduates, as well as other alumni, will have the option of ordering a Dominican University New York diploma which will indicate the institution was formerly known as Dominican College.
Dominican University New York was founded in 1952 by the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt, the order to which Sister Mary Eileen belongs. “We have maintained a close relationship with the sisters throughout our history; they’re members of the board.”
The university is renowned for “the health-related programming” of nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy, she said.
The school maintains Catholic tradition. The order’s charism advances the university’s mission. “In the Dominican tradition, the institution fosters active shared pursuit of truth and embodies an ideal of education rooted in the values of reflective understanding and compassionate involvement.”
Molloy College in Rockville Centre, L.I., became Molloy University on March 31. St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn and in Patchogue, L.I., became St. Joseph’s University, New York, April 13.
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