Georgian Court University announced a change on Tuesday that will dramatically change the face of the Lakewood school in the fall of 2013.
The school will go co-ed after having served as a school for women since it opened more than 100 years ago. The school, which had only allowed men to take classes at night, will allow them to reside on campus as well as take part in the school's athletic program.
The decision, according to a school news release, followed "a strategic planning process that began in the summer of 2011."
Tara Strickland, the school's assistant editorial director, said having men on the campus will not be new as they have been allowed to attend graduate classes since 1976 and regular classes since 1979. But fall 2013 will be the first time they will be allowed to live on campus.
"This historic change reflects our mission and will allow us to provide more students with a comprehensive liberal arts education in the Mercy tradition," Georgian Court President Rosemary E. Jeffries said.
Jeffries said so far the reaction to the change has been positive from the school's community. "GCU's special concern for women will remain a very central part of our philosophy, but we are excited about the opportunity to offer a mercy values-based education to a wider audience of students."
Raymond F. Shea Jr., chairman of the Board of Trustees, said going co-ed will help to raise the profile of the school. "It also enables us to make an even bigger difference as a leading regional university - by keeping students in-state and providing new options for them in the nursing and STEM fields, we can help New Jersey achieve its workforce and higher education goals."
Incoming male students will have the ability to take part in four new Division II varsity sports. The school will add cross country and soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and track & field in the spring. The athletic programs will not begin competition until the fall of 2013.
"We will strive to be competitive from the start, and will begin recruiting this summer so we can field strong teams in the 2013-2014 seasons," said Athletic Director Laura Liesman.
The coaches for the teams should be named sometime in the new fiscal year which starts in July.
For more information on the transition check out the school's website.