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Nazareth officially becomes Nazareth University, June 1

Published May 31, 2023

After operating as a college for 99 years, Nazareth University celebrated both its official transition to university status and its new name in a historic celebration on campus May 31. The event also marked the unveiling of Nazareth University’s new visual identity, including an updated logo that celebrates its rich history while repositioning the Nazareth brand to reflect the institution’s new name. The transition to Nazareth University — which legally takes effect at midnight on June 1, 2023 — ushers in another century of Nazareth educating true changemakers who positively impact the world through their life's work

Nazareth University President Beth Paul was joined on the lawn of Smyth Hall by members of her cabinet; the board of trustees; Nazareth founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph; representatives of local, state, and federal lawmakers; along with faculty, staff, students, campus neighbors, and alumni. The event included a ceremony in which alumni from multiple decades — as far back as the 1950s — wearing Nazareth College sweatshirts, gave new Nazareth University sweatshirts to a group of young children and current students representing the future of the university. 

“In so many ways, Nazareth has already been operating as a university — providing a diverse array of high quality university-level degree programs and opportunities — for much of its history. Our thriving learning community has essentially been a full university operating under a college name,” said President Paul. “Today, we rightfully and accurately assume our identity as Nazareth University.The opportunity to spread our wings and soar into the future as a university has finally arrived, and today is the final milestone in this transformation.”

Nazareth’s application to transition to a university designation, effective June 1, was approved by the New York State Board of Regents in February 2023. According to the Board of Regents, university status in New York — for which many institutions don’t qualify — now requires "registered undergraduate and graduate curricula in the liberal arts and sciences, including graduate programs registered in at least three of the following discipline areas: agriculture, biological sciences, business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professions, humanities, physical sciences, and social sciences." Nazareth offers one doctoral program — a doctorate of physical therapy —  along with more than 25 master's level graduate programs in education; music and arts; health and human services; business and leadership; and humanities and social sciences, in addition to more than 60 undergraduate majors. 

Nazareth University has offered significant undergraduate education since the 1920s and advanced graduate education since the mid-1950s, and has long been included in the master’s category in the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education Institutions. Yet, it wasn’t until New York State changed its regulations of what defines a university that Nazareth could consider becoming Nazareth University. 

“The change to Nazareth University is not just about meeting certain criteria. This change aligns our heritage and mission with higher education institutions around the globe and solidifies the influence of a Nazareth degree,” said Scott Chapman ‘05, member of Nazareth’s board of trustees. “I’m proud that this was truly a campus community-wide decision with overwhelmingly positive feedback from our current students, faculty, staff, and more than 36,000 alumni. Nazareth University further showcases our rich history of educating changemakers and the inclusive environment we’ve built here that instills community and belonging as life-long values.”

Nazareth was founded in 1924 by five members of the Sisters of St. Joseph, or SSJ, who boldly responded to the needs of the time and created Nazareth for positive social change to give women a voice and a chance at higher education. Nazareth became co-ed and legally independent of the religious congregation in the early 1970s but continues to honor the Nazareth legacy and the passion of its founders. SSJ President Eileen Daly spoke about Nazareth’s transition to university.

“The actual word ‘university’ comes from the Latin word ‘universa,’ meaning ‘whole’ and the word ‘veritas,’ meaning ‘truth,’ said Daly. “The truth is: Nazareth is a university, it's been a university, and we should proudly proclaim that identity as a university. The five founding sisters would most certainly have encouraged this transformation, and the members of the Congregation today, who carry on the founders’ legacy, feel the same. 

Nazareth’s Alumni Board Chair and Trustee Danielle Abramson ‘08 put this transition into context, saying, “For 10 decades, our graduates received diplomas that say Nazareth College – and a few weeks ago that happened for the final time. Which, while bittersweet, is also a reminder that evolution has always been part of the Nazareth story. My mind turns to a simple phrase that anyone who attended Nazareth knows. ‘We are Naz.’ Naz is still the place where remarkable people teach, study, and work. And that will always be the case. Whether Naz is known as Nazareth College, or now Nazareth University, what makes this place special will not change, and going forward it will be even more amazing, filled with new learning paths for our students, increased professional opportunities for faculty and staff, and enhanced connections for our alumni.”

Nazareth University is on the cusp of its 100th anniversary in 2024, and starts a two-year centennial celebration in fall 2023 when the inaugural class of Nazareth University students arrive on campus.

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Julie Long | Senior News & PR Officer | | (585) 389-2456 | (585) 781-8186 (cell)

Nazareth University is an inclusive community of inspired learners, educators, and changemakers who for nearly 100 years have been driven by a bold commitment to action, empathy, equity, and leading innovation for the common good. Impact experiences are at the heart of a Nazareth education, preparing each student to discover within themselves the potential to cultivate positive change in their life's work, in any career field, and in a world that is constantly evolving and infinitely interconnected.

Our broad academic offerings present a range of study options typical of larger universities, yet achieved in our supportive campus culture. Nearly 2,100 undergrad and 600 graduate students enroll in degree and certificate programs and engage in collaborative, transformative learning experiences, preparing for the professions and society of today and tomorrow. In a learning community that purposefully integrates liberal arts and professional programs, Nazareth University graduates are able to launch a lifetime of impactful leadership in communities and workplaces near and far.