By MAX FILBY
Findlay College became the University of Findlay 25 years ago today.
Since its name change, the school has upped its enrollment by 1,453, from 2,215 to 3,668, and increased the size of its main campus from 25 acres to 88 acres.
To celebrate, the university will host a gala from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex on the main campus. The gala, which costs $45 to attend, will offer guests dinner, music from a live band, dancing, fireworks and a cash bar.
The university was founded in 1882 as Findlay College by the Churches of God, General Conference. The first 70 students started attending classes in 1886, according to the university’s website.
The name change was made in 1989 for reasons of prestige, and because universities attract better students and more international students, school officials said at the time.
There is no legal difference in the U.S. between colleges and universities. But in parts of Asia and Europe, “college” means high school, while a university is considered an institution of higher education.
Also, universities usually offer graduate degrees, and tend to have more variety and specialization in academic programs.
In 1989, the University of Findlay began offering its first graduate program: a master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages and bilingual education.
A quarter-century later, the university offers nine master’s degree programs and a doctor of pharmacy degree.
The number of international students at the University of Findlay continues to rise. It reported a 45 percent increase in the international student population in March. The jump brought the number of international students from 291 in spring 2013 to 423 this spring.
“We really are beating the odds here,” said Penny Gerdeman, director of international admissions and services. “We’re really glad to be on the uptick.”
As Findlay changed its name, other colleges in the region and state were doing the same.
Ashland College became Ashland University; Rio Grande College became Rio Grande University; Urbana College became the University of Urbana; Steubenville College became the University of Steubenville.
In later years, more colleges followed suit. Bluffton College became Bluffton University in 2004, and Heidelberg College in Tiffin became Heidelberg University in 2009.