Rosemont College losing a legend in Sharon Latchaw Hirsh

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The small Catholic liberal arts school on the Main Line, which began to offer online graduate-degree programs, overhauled how it charges tuition. (Image courtesy Rosemont College)
By Mark Schiele
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She been there since 2006. Now, longtime president Sharon Latchaw Hirsh is moving on.
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The small Catholic liberal arts school on the Main Line went coed nearly a decade ago. It began to offer online graduate-degree programs, overhauled how it charges tuition to appeal to more middle-class students, and made SAT and ACT scores optional for admission, writes Susan Synder for inquirer.com.
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The changes continue. Hirsh said she will step down as president next May, after 14½ years at the helm. That’s more than twice the average tenure for a college president. The only other four-year college presidents in the region who have been at it longer are Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, and Sister Carol Jean Vale, president of Chestnut Hill College. Hirsh’s departure will come one year shy of Rosemont’s 100th anniversary.
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“I just think it’s a good time,” said Hirsh, who will be 72 when she departs, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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Though Rosemont, like many other colleges, faces challenges, Hirsh — a 1970 Rosemont alumna — remains optimistic about its future.
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“Rosemont is going to survive, because I know we’re operating as this little, tiny machine,” she said this month. “We just keep doing what we need to do.… We don’t have a significant endowment, but we also don’t have significant, out-of-proportion debt, which has been part of the concern of some other colleges.”
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The school has been going through a growing period.
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Rosemont has been taking steps to stay competitive and respond to a dip in high school graduates nationally. In 2009, it welcomed its first class with men. Today, about 35 percent of its students are males.
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And her name will live on: The board of trustees this spring voted to rename the new 73,000-square-foot campus building under construction. It will be called the Sharon Latchaw Hirsh Community Center.
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