Is Cabrini University in our future?

By Staff Writer
February 7, 2002

Justine DiFilippo

Many local colleges are changing their statuses to universities. Now, with Eastern College being the latest to do so, all eyes are focused squarely across King of Prussia Road at Cabrini. However, the administration is not feeling any pressure to add more programs or increase their graduate studies curriculum.


Workers at Eastern College were out quickly changing their sign on King of Prussia Road to read “Eastern University” recently. The college officially became a university on Dec. 1, 2001, immediately drawing speculation about the future of Cabrini’s college status.

A 1999 report from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools “strongly” recommended that Eastern consider university status based on two reasons, according to an Internet letter posted by Eastern University President, David Black. Firstly, Eastern offers extensive graduate programs, and secondly, they have opened a new department, the School of International Leadership and Development. All in all, Eastern University offers 46 undergraduate and graduate programs to its students.

According to Nancy Santos Gainer, executive director of marketing and communications, marketing a university can be tough. “The public has to become educated about the facts,” Santos Gainer said.

When speaking to administrators about Cabrini’s status in the community, one term that continues to be used is “niche.” Cabrini has a niche as being a small, private, Catholic college geared towards undergraduate education.

“We’re the best in education (majors),” Santos Gainer said, referring to regional studies showing Cabrini being rated the second private school in Pennsylvania for education majors.

Santos Gainer also said that most universities try to market themselves as small schools, despite their rather large sizes. “It’s all relative,” Santos Gainer said when speaking about the quality of programs offered at universities and colleges.

President Iadarola feels that Eastern became a university because of their international appeal. Iadarola went on to explain that the word “college” translates to “high school” overseas. However, “university” translates to “college.” So, basically foreigners don’t see a need to go to a “college.”

Eastern also offers a more expansive masters program as well as a doctorate program.

Iadarola continued by speaking more about Cabrini’s “niche,” saying that the school is meeting a “need” in the market. Becoming Cabrini University would mean that the school would have to change its mission statement and place more emphasis on graduate work. Cabrini would also have to increase its on-campus resources, such as the library and faculty, making it an all around larger school.

For people like junior English/communications major Kit Dewey, that idea is not very appealing. “I was looking for a small school and I don’t want that to change.” Dewey cited the desire for a small school as a key incentive for attending Cabrini.

Sophomore special education major Haven McMickle liked the idea of a larger school, citing the “more opportunities” it offers. McMickle, along with her friend Dewey, is going to Kansas University this summer to study “drama therapy” as a major. They hope to bring back what they learn from Kansas University to further Cabrini’s resources in that area.

University status for Cabrini would also mean that the school would have to change its pay scale for faculty. Becoming a university is something that has to go through the state government and could take years to accomplish. Holy Family and Immaculata Colleges are both rumored to be considering university status for their schools.

When asked about the pressures to change Cabrini to university status, Iadarola firmly stated, “I don’t run this college by fads out there!” Her voice seemed to resonate throughout her office, and her stern answer seemed to echo perhaps months of thought and criticism.

In an interview conducted via e-mail, Dr. Jonnie Guerra, vice president for academic affairs stated that, “right now it seems more natural to refer to Cabrini as a college rather than as a university.” Guerra went on to say that Cabrini would want their focus to be on teaching, not on research, if they did become a university.

The general consensus among many of the staffers here is that Cabrini will continue be a college. The issue of Cabrini’s status will not be raised again until at least 2003. At that point, the school will begin to assemble committees to re-evaluate the college

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