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IHM Nurtures Growth at Elms College

Sister Mary Reap was featured in an article in the July 16 issue of MassLive.com by staff writer Cori Urban. In part Sister Mary Reap, president of Elms College in Chicopee, MA, noted, "This wonderful education of women transformed our society," noting the contributions women have made in such fields as education, health care and business. A former president of her alma mater, Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Reap said just as women religious orders were "forward thinking" in establishing colleges, so, too, were they forward thinking in admitting men. "Diversity is always good, and that includes higher education," she said.

Though all-women colleges had advantages that include ensuring leadership roles for the women who attend, "as time went on, it became more common for women to be seen in leadership roles (in society) and schools became co-ed," she said. "Women had the opportunity in a co-ed environment to assume leadership positions."

Women's colleges definitely have a role in higher education, she emphasized, noting Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley and Smith College in Northampton as examples. But when women's colleges admit men, the decision is brought about by numerous factors including changes in society and the need to expand the student – and, thus, the financial– base.

As one of a shrinking number of female Catholic college presidents, Reap has seen growth at Elms College in enrollment, facilities and programs.

In 2009 there were 1,607 full- and part-time students; that number reached 2,069 by 2015.

Contemplating this growth, she smiled and commented that the college is "a wonderful gift to the people of our community."

The complete article can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/hzb7t5s