One year after changing its name from Reinhardt College, the 128-year-old institution had its largest graduating class this year and has several additions and improvements on the horizon.
“It’s been remarkable and marvelous,” Reinhardt University President J. Thomas Isherwood said of the school’s growth since he took its helm in 2002.
In April, Reinhardt held its largest graduation ceremony with more than 300 students receiving degrees.
For the 2010-11, school year, Isherwood said Reinhardt saw an 8 percent increase in student enrollment, taking the school’s student body above 1,200.
Reinhardt moved to change its name from College to University last year after firmly establishing graduate programs.
“It’s an indication of greater complexity,” Isherwood said of the name change, which required approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. “It better communicates the complexity of what Reinhardt stands for.”
Reinhart University has 42 undergraduate programs and five graduate programs.
The graduate programs are fairly new to the school’s academic offerings.
Reinhardt’s first graduate program, the masters in business administration, is only four years old. Over the past few years, the school has added master of arts and teaching and master of music degrees.
In 2012, Reinhart will add two more graduate degrees, Isherwood said. Students will be able to earn masters degrees in special education and early childhood education.
Reinhardt is also adding an undergraduate political science program.
Reinhardt’s biggest changes are coming in its athletic department.
Last year Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees approved the addition of a football team to the school’s fall sports lineup.
“This will be a great opportunity to showcase the university even more,” Reinhardt University Athletic Director Bill Popp. “We feel that the sports programs add to the draw of the university and we can use football to branch out into the community even more.”
Popp is the university’s first full time athletic director. He previously served as director of the sports programs and the school’s head baseball coach.
Reinhardt hired its football coach last year and is now preparing to recruit players.
Isherwood said the football program will add about 100 students to the school.
With the first kickoff planned for 2013, Reinhardt is preparing to build the facilities to support the new sports program and the growth that comes with it.
In August, the university will break ground $7 million project to construct a 72-bed residence hall, 20,000 square-foot field house and new artificial turf field for the football and soccer programs.