People in conversation

Helping a Women's College Go Co-Ed

Randolph-Macon Woman's College began admitting male students in 2007 and changed its name to Randolph College. As a result, divides deepened, and tension clouded the once peaceful Virginia campus.

Some seniors were opposed to graduating from a coed school and resented male first-year students. Faculty and trustees were deeply divided over the college's finances.

Investing Skills

Essential Partners was invited to campus to help recover a lost sense of community.

Over a period of fifteen months, 200 faculty, staff, and students came together in small groups to share their hopes, expectations, and frustrations about the College’s decision to go coed, the impact on the College’s finances, and community morale.

Nineteen faculty and staff, as well as fourteen students were then trained to conduct constructive conversations among campus stakeholders. As always, EP invested the community with the skills needed to lead continuing dialogues across this divisive issue.

Following the training, staff and faculty members continued to devise venues for inclusive participation by everyone on campus. They have worked to rebuild the trust and good faith that had been lost during a difficult and divisive change to the college's identity.