A minor change with a potentially big impact
It may seem like semantics, but it's a significant behind-the-scenes change as the State University of New York at Fredonia officially receives "university" designation. The legal campus name had been "State University of New York College at Fredonia" since the 1940s.
In January 2022, the New York Board of Regents amended the definition of a "university," which now requires an institution to offer at least three graduate programs in agriculture, biological sciences, business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professions, humanities, physical sciences, or social sciences. The SUNY Board of Trustees followed with a resolution establishing a path for institutions to change their official designation from "colleges" to "universities," depending on interest. Several SUNY institutions besides Fredonia have or will be changing their official name.
Fredonia offers 15 graduate degree programs and five advanced graduate certificate programs.
"This designation makes official what has been known about Fredonia for many years; our world-class programs, led by our dedicated professional faculty, rival any institution, large or small," said Executive Vice President and Provost David Starrett. "This designation will underscore Fredonia's dedication to student success at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to prospective students and their families."
The change to a university designation could positively impact recruitment, particularly among international students. "In many countries, institutions of higher education with 'college' designations are perceived to be less comprehensive than institutions with 'university' designation," said Fredonia President Stephen H. Kolison, Jr. "Such a perception can impact the enrollment decisions of students and parents in those countries. This designation recognizes SUNY Fredonia's exceptional undergraduate program array of music and arts, natural and social sciences, education, business, and liberal arts, along with our growing number of graduate programs available and affordable to students worldwide."
“This milestone is a testament to how this institution has evolved from when its founders first established it.” - President Stephen H. Kolison Jr.
See related story: U.S. News and World Report: College vs. University in the U.S.: What's the Difference?
The campus has used "State University of New York at Fredonia" or "SUNY Fredonia" for marketing purposes for several years and will continue to do so.
SUNY Fredonia's origins date back to 1826 when village residents established a form of higher education beyond the "common school" by creating the Fredonia Academy. Before long, the academy became known as a regional center for teacher training. When New York State authorized Fredonia as the site of one of its four new Normal Schools in 1866, the former academy became known as the Fredonia Normal School. "Normal schools" issued state-certified teaching credentials to graduates. During World War II, the state changed the official designation of the school to "Fredonia State Teachers College." In 1948, Fredonia became one of the four-year colleges in the newly-created State University of New York system and took on the most recent name, "State University of New York College at Fredonia."
“This milestone is a testament to how this institution has evolved from when its founders first established it,” Dr. Kolison said. “While staying true to those roots, SUNY Fredonia has transformed into a crown jewel of western New York, serving this region, this state, this country, and the world.”