In 2004, the Board of Trustees began discussing the possibility of transitioning to university status because of the growth in student population and the addition of a second campus. A year later, the Board authorized the administration to study the feasibility of becoming a university and to assess whether to simultaneously change the name of the institution. Significant research followed to assess public perception of the name Villa Julie. The Board approved university status in November 2006 and later established a committee to oversee a study of name options for the institution. The entire College community had a hand in selecting the name as an online bulletin board provided a forum for suggestions. More than 80 name ideas came from that resource. Historical and legal research and surveys shortened that list to seven potential names in late 2007.
The College then started a long phase of quantitative and qualitative research to determine the best name from that group. Alumni, current students, potential students and their families were among the groups surveyed for their opinion on the new name. On June 11, 2008, the Board voted unanimously to change the name of the institution, and the name Stevenson University was unveiled to a packed room the next morning. The Board had earlier voted to keep the Villa Julie name alive by creating the Villa Julie College of Arts and Sciences as part of Stevenson University.
In March 2009, President Manning approved the University Restructuring Plan adopted by the Faculty Council. The plan created four schools within the Villa Julie College of Arts and Sciences: the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; the School of Design; the School of Education; and the School of the Sciences. The Brown School of Business and Leadership and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies remain as originally configured.
Exciting developments for Stevenson were in the works during the summer and fall of 2009. In June, the University announced the addition of football to its roster of 19 Division III men's and women's sports. In August, Stevenson was ranked as one of just 77 "Top Up-and-Coming Schools" nationally by U. S. News & World Report. The University closed the year with the completion of its historic five-year fundraising campaignthe largest in the 63-year history of the institution. Inspiring Students, Building Careers: The Campaign for Stevenson University raised more than $20.3 million in support of the Brown School of Business and Leadership, scholarship endowments, and special programs.
The start of 2010 saw the opening of the new entrance to the Owings Mills campus and the introduction of a new bachelor's program in fashion merchandising and a master's in nursing education and leadership. In addition, Stevenson was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service learning, and civic engagement. In June 2010, the University also received a $100,000 Walmart Foundation College Success grant to assist first generation college students with the transition to university life. In August, a new, updated Mustang logo was unveiled for Stevenson athletics.
In fall 2010, Stevenson welcomed the largest freshman class in its history and opened a labyrinth and meditation center on its Greenspring campus. A new 35,000-square-foot gymnasium opened to complement the Owings Mills campus sports complex. Also in fall 2010, the football team held its first developmental practice season in preparation for fall 2011 intercollegiate competition. The team will compete in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC). The University also announced that it will add women's ice hockey to its selection of athletics programs.
In February 2011, a new fashion design major was announced. Construction of the new 3,500-seat stadium on the Owings Mills campus continued throughout the winter, spring, and summer to be ready for the start of the inaugural football season in September 2011. In addition to football, the stadium will host men's and women's soccer, field hockey, and men's and women's lacrosse games. In fall 2011, Stevenson also opened two new residence halls to house an additional 500 students on the Owings Mills campus.
After more than six decades, Stevenson University remains a dynamic institution focused on developing programs and extracurricular experiences that allow students to acquire the knowledge, professional skills, and personal character traits that empower them to pursue and achieve their life and career goals.
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