Trinity College in Northeast Washington has announced that it will change its name to Trinity University to reflect the growth of its graduate programs, effective today.
Although the 107-year-old Catholic institution remains best known as a women's liberal arts school, college officials noted that it now awards nearly twice as many master's degrees as bachelor's.
The new name will "signal to the rest of the community that we're just as serious a university as the rest of them," said President Patricia A. McGuire. "We felt there was a patronizing attitude about us -- 'oh, that little college' -- but we're a pretty big enterprise these days."
McGuire acknowledged that marketing concerns prompted the change. Like many women's colleges, Trinity struggled to survive as enrollment plunged in the 1980s and '90s before finding a foothold in lucrative graduate and professional programs. Now it enrolls 550 students in its core undergraduate program but nearly 1,200 in its co-ed graduate programs, and about 4,000 local teachers in continuing education programs.
By identifying itself more overtly as a full-fledged university, Trinity hopes to attract more foreign and online students as well as more job-training partnerships with local industries.
Several area colleges have tweaked their names in recent years to better express their growing ambitions. Most recently, Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg switched to the University of Mary Washington, angering some students who thought it a betrayal of the more feminine name.
McGuire expects little such outcry. Freshmen applauded the news, she said, and 70 percent of graduates surveyed approved the change.
Though the school will now share a name with San Antonio's Trinity University, McGuire said the institutions are distant enough that they aren't likely to be confused.
"We were constantly confused with Trinity College in Connecticut, though," she said. "This helps to distinguish us more."