Keep Wilson College a women’s college. Reverse the co-ed decision now!
  • Petitioning The Wilson College Board of Trustees

This petition will be delivered to:

The Wilson College Board of Trustees
Sheldon Goettel
J. Samuel Houser
John W. Gibb
Vice Chair
Paula S. Tishok
Elizabeth V. McDowell
Julie I. Englund
President of Wilson College
Barbara K. Mistick
Amy A. Boyce
Mary F. Cramer
Susanna N. Duke
Leslie L. Durgin
Tami L. Fratis
Richard C. Grove
Edgar H. Howells, Jr.
Pamela Francis Kiehl
Nancy A. Kostas
Tracy C. Leskey
Heather E. Long
Lisbeth S. Luka
Jane E. Murray
Jill A. R. Roberts
Marsha A. Sajer
James A. Smeltzer
Nancy C. Smith
Phoebe H. Stevenson
Judith R. Stewart
Ronette M. Stoner
Betty Lou L. Thompson
Nancy D. Washington

Keep Wilson College a women’s college. Reverse the co-ed decision now!

    1. Petition by

      Wilson College Women

Wilson College has all the attributes needed to thrive as a women’s college and should not be destroyed by a rushed and unnecessary decision made by its President and members of its Board of Trustees.

On January 13, 2013, the Board of Trustees of Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA, in a divided vote, dissolved the college for women and replaced it with a co-educational college. This decision should be reversed.

The Board of Trustees' decision ignored studies showing that single-sex education remains a crucial option for young women. It ignored compelling data showing that women's colleges continue to produce graduates who lead in the workforce at disproportionately higher rates than their coed counterparts. It ignored a national trend of increased enrollment by women in a larger trend of leveling enrollments. Most of all, the decision ignored financial scenarios that show Wilson can thrive as a financially sustainable women's college with the passionate support of its alumnae, students, faculty, administrators and friends.

The Board of Trustees and President of the College made the decision Wilson should become co-educational based on the outcome of a process that was neither “open” nor “transparent.”

In early 2012, the President and Board of Trustees convened a Commission charged to develop recommendations “to achieve future enrollment goals, achieve financial sustainability and shape an optimum scenario for Wilson to thrive.” At forums held by the Commission to report on the strategic ideas under consideration, dozens of participants identified problems with the data, financial models, and assumptions underlying the Commission’s work. Participants also questioned the lack of notice to the community about the possible change in the College’s mission and the rush to conclude the Commission’s work. Just days after the Commission issued its confidential final report the President recommended to the Board of Trustees that Wilson be made co-educational.

Although the Commission and Board invited community input and emphasized its “open and transparent process,” the Chair of the Board of Trustees, in a letter to participants on December 6, 2012, made clear that no factors beyond the President’s recommendations and supporting information (which was undisclosed) would come to bear on the Board’s deliberations. An “open” process that invites and then ignores input is not an open process. A process that occurs behind closed doors is not “transparent.”

The Board of Trustees voted to make Wilson co-educational in response to a sense of crisis created by fiscal fear-mongering and deliberately misleading claims about the College’s current and projected financial health.

Wilson College faces major financial and enrollment challenges, but it has significant resources that will allow it to thrive. College administrators, however, have emphasized Wilson’s dire financial straits. With only selective financial projections to back up their assertion, the College President and some members of the Board of Trustees insisted that altering the core mission of the women’s college was the only financially sound choice for Wilson’s future.

The College endowment stands at over $60 million. Its assets include a beautiful 300-acre campus, a residential capacity for approximately 650 students, a state-of-the-art LEED-certified Science Complex, several National Historic Registry buildings, an award-winning equestrian center, the Hankey Center for the Advancement of Women, the Fulton Center for Sustainable Living, the Women with Children Program and over 6,500 alumnae, many of whom are steadfast supporters of the College and passionate about making the single-gender education option that is the core mission of the College available to future generations of young women.

There is time to get Wilson College back on track and take immediate advantage of the resources and energies of its devoted faculty, staff and alumnae who raised more than $81 thousand in 26 days in a show of support for the women’s college. In the current climate of renewed interest in women’s colleges, strategic investments in marketing, recruiting, retention and fundraising will position Wilson to thrive.

Keep Wilson College a women’s college – reverse the decision to end 144 years of dedication to women’s education!

Recent signatures


    1. Wilson College Should Continue as a Women's School

      Wilson College should continue as women's school

      Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014, 1:08 AM When Wilson College in Chambersburg voted to go coeducational last year, officials at the traditionally all-female school blamed low enrollment and financial straits for their decision. In the process, they ignored the innovative work being done at women's colleges across the country.

    2. June 16 2014 - Today in Harrisburg, PA

      Wilson College Women alumnae and supporters are at the PA Department of Education today, to argue the legitimacy of Wilson College’s current mission to educate women. Wilson College Women is calling on the Department of Education to affirm Wilson College as a single-sex educational option that supports the residential women’s college and helps Wilson College truly thrive.

      The hearing is open to the public. Gretchen Van Ness, Kendal Hopkins, Melissa Behm and Paula Tischok, former Trustees and college alumnae, are testifying on behalf of thousands of women’s college alumnae and supporters.

      The proceedings is being live tweeted and live blogged:

      Follow the hearing on Twitter at You do not need a Twitter account to visit Twitter and follow the live updates!

      Follow the hearing live on

      Look for more updates on the Wilson College Women’s Facebook page:

    3. Wilson Women Celebrate March 24th Founders Day with Some Good News

      Wilson women’s college supporters have some good news to celebrate this March 24th, the day in 1869 when Wilson’s charter was signed creating the College for Women. In January 2013, Wilson’s Board of Trustees violated its Charter by eliminating the undergraduate, residential women's college. The next summer, they filed with the PA Department of Education (PDE) for approval of proposed revisions to the school's charter with implications beyond simply eliminating the women's college. Wilson College Women appealed to the PDE and were granted a hearing.
      The good news is that public hearing will occur on MONDAY, JUNE 16th at 9:00 am in the HONORS SUITE at 333 MARKET STREET in Harrisburg, PA. The public and media are invited. All women’s college supporters are encouraged to attend! Further info and links to testimony will be posted on the WCW Facebook Page at

    4. PA Dept of Ed Will Hold Hearing on Protests of Proposed Charter Changes

      This past summer, the Wilson College Board of Trustees filed with the PA Department of Education for approval of proposed revisions to the school’s Charter. In addition to dissolving the women's college, the proposed changes include both eliminating the requirement that the College maintain a minimum number of full-time faculty, and weaken a requirement regarding maintaining a minimum endowment. Forty protests were filed by alumnae and supporters from across the country. Wilson College Women also requested expedited review and a public hearing.

      Jill Hans, Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education, is handling the Wilson College matter. On November 27, Ms. Hans announced that an informational public hearing will be held and that Wilson College Women is granted status to participate. Further details about the public hearing will be announced after December 13th.

    5. Forbes Ranking Shows No "Fiscal Cliff" for the Women's College

      A recent financial responsibility ranking by Forbes magazine and the US Department of Education gave Wilson College high marks for financial soundness in 2011, just prior to its takeover by its pro-coed president and board chairman.  Former trustee, Paula S. Tishok, who resigned this year citing disagreement with the financial decisions being made by the president and her board, is quoted in the article:  "The college community was duped by the current administration into believing that there was an imminent 'fiscal cliff,' irrespective of the facts," said Paula S. Tishok.  Read the full article by Jim Hook at:

      Wilson College's financial ranking in Forbes rankles some alumnae

      Click photo to enlarge Wilson College scores high in financial stability among U.S. colleges -- a finding in apparent contradiction to President Barbara Mistick's recent warning that the small college in Chambersburg faces a "fiscal cliff." The contrast has fed an alumnae movement to keep the 144-year-old school a women's college.

    6. Petition for Hearing and Motion to Intervene Filed with PA Dept. of Ed

      When the Board of Trustees adopted coeducation at Wilson College across all programs on January 13, 2013 and admitted its first male student weeks later, the Trustees did not approve amendments to the College’s Articles of Incorporation to permit coeducation until five months later, at its May Board meeting. The proposed amendments do not take effect until approved by the PA Department of Education (PDE).
      The PDE formal Notice is here: 
      secure/data/vol43/43-28/ 1253.html
      Interested parties may file protests, petitions for a hearing, and motions to intervene by August 13, 2013 to: Dr. Rod Niner, Education Associate, Department of Education, 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333. Subject line should include your full name and address and Application of Wilson College, 43 Pa.B. 3951. Check the WCW FB page at for further details.

    7. Wilson Trustees Provoke Law Suit. Women's College Supporters Look to PA AG

      The Wilson College Board of Trustees, despite being served a legal demand to halt the elimination of the women's college, voted to change permanently the school articles of incorporation and charter to eliminate its mission to educate women. The vote on May 16, was the last opportunity for the College to avoid a full blown law suit.
      Alumnae and friends of the College are now voicing their concerns to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, which has the final say on the charter amendments.
      Four trustees have resigned as a result of the vote and growing concern over financial decisions made by the board leadership. Women's college supporters meanwhile are raising money for the Legal Fund through a silent auction. Details at the WCW Facebook site.

    8. Reached 1,500 signatures
    9. Due Diligence Demanded from Wilson College Trustees

      Wilson College Trustees have received a letter demanding that the Board rescind its January decision to admit men to the College's residential programs. In the demand letter, the attorney charges that the Board abandoned the core mission of Wilson College without prudent, reasonable due diligence investigation and rational deliberation and that the Board has permitted implementation of the co-ed decision with actual knowledge that the decision violates the Charter and By-Laws of the College. The letter states that it is a demand letter for purposes of potential corporate derivative litigation. It demands that the board rescind its decision at the upcoming May 16th board meeting, develop financial sustainability models and assess the impact of coeducation on the College using accurate, reliable data and assumptions.

    10. Wilson's Struggle on Here & Now Radio Program

      Wilson College Women's struggle to reclaim the college was featured on WBUR Boston's Here and Now program with Robin Young on Thursday, April 11, 2013.  To listen, go to the Here and Now web site at The program segment titled "What's Happening to Women's Colleges"
      featured Wilson College's current President, Dr. Barbara K. Mistick as the anti-women's college voice and David Strauss of Arts and
      Sciences Consulting in Baltimore, MD, articulating the importance of women's colleges.  A shame Wilson did not find Mr. Strauss when it 
      was shopping for consultants. Join the dialog on the Here and Now site's
      Comments section or go to the Wilson College Women Facebook page - - to weigh in.

    11. Support Builds Along With Legal Case

      As of today, over 1,200 supporters from around the world have signed our petition including hundreds of women's college graduates who understand the continuing value of their single-sex education and experience. In addition, alumnae and friends have contributed over $23,000 to the Preserve Wilson for Women Legal Fund  (P.O. Box 51740, Boston, MA, 02205), including at least two individuals who have redirected their annual contributions to the Legal Fund. We anticipate a major announcement on the legal front in the coming weeks.
      Meanwhile, the Wilson College Women group has sent out its first newsletter to alumnae, and discussions are continuing with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Attorney General's office regarding the College's failure to amend its charter before admitting its first male student, and its failure to contact donors whose gifts are restricted to Wilson as a women's college. - Start, Join, and Win Campaigns for Change is the web's leading platform for social change, empowering anyone, anywhere to start petitions that make a difference.

    12. Wilson Loyalist Skips Annual Fund in Favor of Legal Fund

      One Wilson College alumna has redirected her entire annual fund contribution for Wilson College to the Preserve Wilson College Legal Fund. Other alumnae chose to take at least a part of their annual giving to Wilson College and redirect it to the legal fund to support the effort to reverse the coed decision and restore Wilson College to its intended function as a women’s college. The legal fund has grown rapidly in value since its inception in the weeks following the controversial and unsupportable decision to make Wilson coed, a decision that continues to deeply divide the Wilson College community.

    13. Administration Questions Non-Wilson Signatures: Asks Why Would Anyone Sign?

      Wilson's new marketing director, brought on-board in part to spearhead the appeal to male potential students, recently asked the Wilson College Women Facebook page team why so many petition signatures are from non-Wilson people. The team felt the question should have been Why are so many signatures *from* Wilson people? Given the College's propensity to ignore its women's college women, the question should not have come as a surprise. Could it be that non-Wilson women’s college veterans and single-gender education supporters understand Wilson’s value and potential better than its own marketing team?

    14. Reached 1,000 signatures
    15. Trustee Hard Line Prompts Support for Legal Challenge

      The Wilson College Trustee's refusal to reconsider the coed decision has ignited a tremendous show of support from Wilson alumnae, women's college supporters and supporters of single gender education.  The Preserve Wilson Legal Fund has realized donations of $500 a day since its inception in mid-February.  Updates on the legal effort to restore Wilson as a women's college and a link for donations to the Legal Fund are on the Wilson College Women Facebook page.

    16. Reached 750 signatures
    17. Legal Challenge to the Board's Vote on Co-Education

      Counsel has been retained and is evaluating the basis for a legal challenge to the Board's decision. The Board of Trustees refused to reconsider the coed vote at its meeting on February 21-23. The co-ed decision was neither reversed nor tabled by the Board so that proper evaluation and independent review of the decision could be taken.

      For updates and details about the law suit, please visit the Wilson College Women group on Facebook:

    18. Wilson Supporters Speak Out About the Coed Decision

      Read reactions and responses to the Board's vote in Letters to the Editor: Chambersburg Public Opinion: Wilson College Just Undermined Part of Its Product (
      The Chronicle of Higher Education:
      There Remains a Place for Women's Colleges,
      ( and
      Process that Brought Coeducation was Rushed, Incomplete
      More coverage on the issue in the News section of the Pines & Maples Facebook site:

    19. Reached 500 signatures
    20. Growing Support to Reverse Wilson Coed Decision

      Thank you to everyone who signed the “Keep Wilson a Women’s College petition! Your heartfelt, thoughtful reasons for signing are helping to reveal the true Wilson College story. Be sure to check out the Wilson College Women Facebook page for more updates on the fight to reverse the decision and reclaim Wilson College as a women's college.

    21. Reached 250 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Stacy Youst SPENCERPORT, NY
      • 3 months ago

      I've read statistics and what I see for myself has me convinced that women need their own places to learn and prepare for our future work.

    • Jimmy Lamie RINGGOLD, VA
      • 4 months ago

      Females as a whole are possessed with higher intellect than their male counter parts. Here inVA we lost our all women's college and as a educator I think it is important too all females to have situations where women can learn and excel in a atmosphere without fear of male interference.

    • Martha Peterson CHATHAM, NJ
      • 4 months ago

      Am a graduate of a woman's college and recognize the importance of this experience and its positive influence on me.

    • Emmy Leung RICHMOND, VA
      • 4 months ago

      Graduate of Sweet Briar College

    • Nicole Hagan DURHAM, NC
      • 6 months ago

      Women's colleges have a place. Even thought mine was taken away because of backroom deals with ridiculous kickbacks for board members, blatant lies and deceit, and censorship of alumnae of all ranks, I stand by what women's colleges offer. It's unlike anything else in the world. Wilson Women, keep fighting. Never stop.


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