Since its founding in 1883, Reinhardt has changed names to reflect its mission and offerings. On June 1, 2010, Reinhardt will again take on a new name – Reinhardt University. The transition was inevitable because of the institution’s growth in degree offerings, expanded program locations and enhanced learning facilities.
“The change of name to Reinhardt University accurately reflects the comprehensive institution of learning that Reinhardt has become,” said Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood, president. “With forty majors, an expanding list of graduate programs, outreach to four locations in north Georgia beyond our Waleska main campus, and an array of on-line learning opportunities, ‘University’ better describes who we are.”
After fall classes begin, Reinhardt (reinhardt.edu) will host a festive event to highlight the name change. “We are excited about this change,” said Marsha S. White, executive director of marketing and communications. “We see it as a wonderful opportunity to reach out to our students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, friends and community. We have great news to share, and during the upcoming year, and beyond, we will have new opportunities to tell others what Reinhardt University has to offer.”
The University’s new offerings range from specialized programs for first responders (fire, police, EMTs) and graduate programs in business, music and education to new programs in theatre and math education and new sports like men’s and women’s lacrosse. Isherwood said this variety and quantity already exceeds what a college traditionally provides, and the institution’s new strategic plan encourages continued development of evening, weekend and online programs and access points for working adults and graduate students. Though enrollment has averaged about 1100 in recent years, the institution’s new strategic plan calls for growth to 1500 over the next five years: with 500 students living on campus, 500 commuting to Waleska, and 500 enrolled in graduate school or attending extended sites.
Reinhardt facilities have much to offer – all have been built or renovated since 1994. The newest projects – the Hasty Student Life Center, the East and West Apartments, the Falany Performing Arts Center and the Brown P.E. Building – are wonderful resources for community organizations and summer camps. The Falany Performing Arts Center, the Funk Heritage Center and the Fincher Visual Arts Center also bring scores of visitors to the Waleska campus each year.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the generations has been Reinhardt’s emphasis on shaping lives and building futures, and this mission has long attracted families interested in a quality, personalized education that extends beyond the classroom. “While there has been much change over the last 10 years, what is vital to the Reinhardt experience remains untouched: average class size of 14 students, quality and personal relationships with faculty, friends you'll have for a lifetime, and success-driven education,” said Isherwood. “We are a proud affiliate of The United Methodist Church with a strong liberal arts tradition. Clubs and organizations, athletics and residence hall life, or service projects and spiritual activities – all continue to play a central role in shaping the Reinhardt experience.”
Many students and alumni say they welcome the new name, but they are also quick to point out that the faculty and staff’s commitment to students isn’t changing. “Although the name will change, I do not think that the feeling of community will change,” said Zaine Hedge, a junior from Villa Rica, Ga. and the student government association president. “The members of the Reinhardt family, faculty and staff alike, are adamantly dedicated to continuing to produce the personable atmosphere Reinhardt College was known for. If anything, I believe that the Reinhardt faculty and staff will create an even more satisfying sense of an inviting and caring learning atmosphere to separate us from the other universities.”
Dr. Beth Bowser ’68, president of Reinhardt’s Alumni Board of Governors, agrees. “What really matters is what this institution stands for, its unique spirit, and the opportunities for life-changing experiences that occur here that will remain, regardless of whether it is a college or a university. The name change recognizes the growth that this institution has made. It puts us more visibly on the higher education map as an institution that offers more than a two-year and a four-year experience. It invites people to take a closer look at us and the quality education that is offered here.”
Hedge added to Bowser’s sentiments, “Overall, I believe the name change is for the best. Being called a university not only showcases Reinhardt's ability to focus on the many different needs of the students, faculty and staff, but it also instills a greater sense of pride for the school that we as Reinhardt students call home.”