Williams Baptist University – Q & A

Q: Why make the change from Williams Baptist College to Williams Baptist University?
A: There are four core reasons for this change:

  • Organization: The academic organization of Williams Baptist College is expanding.  In keeping with the objectives of the Diamond Vision Plan, Williams is adding academic programs to meet the rapidly changing dynamics of higher education, and these programs have necessitated a new academic division.  The name Williams Baptist University reflects this expanded academic structure.
  • Graduate Programs: Williams is now a graduate level institution, having launched its first master’s degree, the Master of Arts in Teaching, in 2017.  More graduate programs are anticipated, as well.  Changing our name to university captures the nature of such a graduate level institution.
  • Momentum: The name change comes as Williams is enjoying momentum in several areas.  The announcements of building projects, new academic programs, an expanded athletic program and major gifts have illustrated to the public that Williams is moving forward.  Becoming Williams Baptist University is a continuation of the momentum.
  • Reputation:  The name Williams Baptist University more accurately reflects the academic diversity which has long been a part of this institution.  In our case, “Baptist college” has sometimes been confused with “Bible college,” an institution whose sole purpose is training pastors.  While Williams is proud of its excellent Christian ministries program, this name has obscured the wide array of outstanding academic programs which are offered.  And, although Williams has been a four-year college since 1984, there are some lingering perceptions of WBC as a junior college.  The connotation of a “university” helps move us beyond this confusion and expresses the true nature of the institution.

Q: What are the benefits to becoming WBU?
A: Being known as a university will benefit student recruitment both domestically and internationally.  The name Williams Baptist University will indicate to prospective students that Williams is an academically diverse institution, capable of preparing them for a wide array of careers across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines.  For international students, “university” is perceived as a higher level classification, thus making Williams more marketable around the world.  By more accurately reflecting the academic nature of Williams, the name change will also reap benefits in the recruitment of faculty, administrators, coaches, and others from around the country and around the world.

Q: What is the timetable for this transition?
A: Williams will officially begin using the new name, Williams Baptist University, on July 1, 2018, with final recognitions taking place during the start of the Fall Semester in August of 2018.  In the transition time, the institution will implement its new name in such areas as signage, Internet and email domains, and stationary, with a completion date of July 1, 2018. 

Q: What is the difference between a college and a university?
A:  There are no regulatory criteria, definitions, or distinctions associated with the term “university” either by the government or our accrediting agencies.  However, a college typically uses the term university when it branches into several academic divisions and offers a wide array of academic studies, including graduate programs.  This describes the structure currently found at Williams, which has three academic divisions (Arts & Sciences; Professional Studies; Graduate & Online Programs) and a master’s program.

Q: Is Williams large enough to be a university?
A: Yes. The term university typically reflects the structure and academic offerings of an institution, rather than its size.  Across the United States, universities range in size from fewer than 100 to tens of thousands.

Q: How did Williams decide to become a university?
A: The move has been actively considered for the past two years, for the reasons stated above.  It has involved consultation with our Board of Trustees, faculty and administrators, as well as gauging the sentiments of our campus community and our constituents.  After such consideration, we determined the time is now for this transition, and the Board of Trustees voted at its September 15 meeting to proceed with the university initiative.

Q: Does the name change affect Williams’ standing as a Christian institution?
A: Christian commitment is the bedrock of this institution, and that will not change in any way.  The Christ-centered nature of Williams is our heritage, our calling, and our reason to exist.  Being known as a university simply helps Williams to better accomplish and communicate its stated mission: To provide an excellent, holistically Christian liberal arts education while compassionately shaping student lives.

Q: Will being a university affect Williams’ standing as a liberal arts institution?
A: Williams is an excellent liberal arts institution, and that remains absolutely unchanged with the new name.  Williams is more committed than ever to providing a well-rounded education in the liberal arts tradition.  While research and publication have their place at any institution of higher learning, our focus remains, as always, on providing the best possible learning experience for our students.

Q: Will being a university affect student-to-teacher ratios or class sizes?
A: Williams will continue to feature personal attention to students in an intimate class setting.  Our outstanding student-to-teacher ratio (13-to-1) and small class sizes (average of 17) will not be impacted in any way by this change.

Q: Will the name change have any impact on accreditation?
A: Williams will continue to be accredited just as before.  The university will enjoy the same good standing with our main accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission, just as our education program will continue to bear the stamp of approval from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Q: Will this change impact the governance or administrative structure of Williams?
A: Nothing changes about Williams’ governance or administration.  The institution will still be owned and operated by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, which appoints all voting members of our Board of Trustees.  The president of the university will answer to the Board, as always.

Q: Will the athletic program be impacted by this change?
A: The name change does not affect the Williams athletic program.  The Eagles will continue as members of the NAIA, and they will still compete in the American Midwest Conference.  In fact, other members of our conference have made the university transition over the past several years, as well.

Q: Will the name change increase the cost to attend Williams?
A: We are happy to report that tuition will not increase at Williams next fall.  The name change will have no bearing on the cost to attend Williams now or in the future.

Q: Will branding and logos change with the new name?
A: The only significant change in our branding will be replacing “College” with “University” in the name.  Our “W” icon and our Eagles athletic logo will remain the same, as will the fonts and colors associated with our branding.

Q: Will there be changes in Internet, email, and social media addresses?
A: Yes, the name change will necessitate a change in our electronic addresses.  New domain names will be implemented for our main website (currently williamsbaptistuniversity.com), athletic website, campus email, and social media handles.  These transitions will occur before the 2018 Fall Semester and we will keep the public and all of our constituencies informed as the changes are completed.

Q: What is the history of name changes at this institution?
A: The school was founded as Southern Baptist College in 1941.  On the college’s 50th anniversary in 1991, it was renamed Williams Baptist College in honor of founder H.E. Williams.  The transition to Williams Baptist University marks only the second name change in the school’s 76-year history.

Q: Will diplomas say Williams Baptist College or Williams Baptist University?
A: Diplomas issued after August of 2018 will say Williams Baptist University.  This year’s senior class, which will graduate in May of 2018, will be the last to receive diplomas that read Williams Baptist College.

Q: Can graduates from previous years get a new diploma that says Williams Baptist University?A: Yes, we plan to offer this option for graduates who wish to purchase a diploma bearing the new name.

Q: Can alumni list Williams Baptist University on their resumes?
A: Yes, it is standard practice for graduates of an institution to list the current name of the school.