Goucher College Article

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Goucher College
Goucher College Seal.svg
Former name
Women's College of Baltimore (1885–1910)
Gratia et Veritas ( Latin)
Motto in English
Grace and Truth
Type Private liberal arts college
Academic affiliation
Annapolis Group
Endowment US$209.5 million (2017) [1]
President José Antonio Bowen
Academic staff
Undergraduates1,455 [2]
Location, ,
CampusSuburban, 287 acres (1.2 km²)
Colors Blue and Gold          
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIILandmark Conference
Mascot Gopher
Website goucher.edu
Goucher College Wordmark.svg
Goucher College
Goucher College Haebler Memorial Chapel.jpg
The facade of the non-denominational Haebler Memorial Chapel at the center of campus
Goucher College is located in Maryland
Goucher College
Goucher College is located in the US
Goucher College
Location1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, Maryland
Coordinates 39°24′39″N 76°36′01″W / 39.41083°N 76.60028°W / 39.41083; -76.60028
GOUCHER COLLEGE Latitude and Longitude:

39°24′39″N 76°36′01″W / 39.41083°N 76.60028°W / 39.41083; -76.60028
Area287 acres (116 ha)
ArchitectMoore & Hutchins; Sasaki, Hideo, et al.
Architectural styleModern Movement
NRHP reference # 07000885 [3]
Added to NRHPAugust 28, 2007

Goucher College ( /ˈɡər/ ( About this sound listen) GOW-chər) is a private liberal arts college in Towson, Maryland. As of 2018, the school had approximately 1,450 undergraduates studying in 33 majors and six interdisciplinary fields and 700 students enrolled in graduate programs. In addition to bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Goucher offers professional certificates in several areas, as well as a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program. [4] [5]

The college was chartered in 1885 following a conference in Baltimore led by several local ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, including Dr. John F. Goucher, for whom the school is named. [6] Formerly an all-women’s college, Goucher became coeducational in 1986. [7] Originally situated in northern Baltimore, Goucher established its current campus in 1953, where it occupies a 287-acre parcel of land in downtown Towson. [8]

As a member of the Landmark Conference, Goucher competes in the NCAA's Division III sports, including lacrosse, tennis, soccer, and horseback riding. Goucher is among the few colleges in the United States to require a study abroad of all undergraduates and was one of forty institutions profiled in Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope. [9] [10]


19th century

John F. Goucher, the college's founder and namesake

The school's beginnings trace to 1881 when the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church passed a resolution to found a seminary. The proposal was met with some objection, with one member stating, "I would not give a fig for a weakling little thing of a seminary. We want such a school, so ample in its provisions, of such dignity in its buildings, so fully provided with the best apparatus, that it shall draw to itself the eyes of the community and that young people shall feel it an honor to be enrolled among its students." [11] In response, Minister and conference member John B. Van Meter asserted "that the Conference [should] make the foundation and endowment of a female college the single object of its organized effort." [11]

Van Meter was joined by fellow minister John Franklin Goucher (1845–1922) and together they eventually persuaded the conference to found a college instead. [11] As a result, the Women's College of Baltimore City (the "City" was later dropped) was chartered on January 26, 1885. It opened its doors in 1888 and four years later graduated its first class of just five students. [12]

John Goucher, despite being the school's namesake and his role in its founding, was not the college's first president. Although offered the post, he declined, and it instead went to William Hersey Hopkins, who had served as president of St. John's College in Annapolis. [13] After Hopkins resigned in 1890 to join the faculty, the board of trustees voted unanimously to re-nominate Goucher for the role. Under pressure from the board, Goucher relented and accepted the position, which he went on to hold for nearly two decades. He and his wife Mary Cecilia Fisher also made significant financial contributions to the college, to which he bequeathed a portion of his estate. [11]

20th century

During President Goucher's tenure, the college saw growing enrollment but also suffered financial deficits. [11] In 1904, the college became the second in Maryland to establish a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, after Johns Hopkins University. [14] Goucher stepped down in 1908 to resume his international missionary work but remained involved with the school as president emeritus until his death in 1922. [13] In 1910, the school was renamed to Goucher College in his honor. In 1913, the college inaugurated its fourth president, William W. Guth, who oversaw the construction of several new residence halls and a successful million-dollar fundraising campaign. [11]

A colorized postcard photo of Goucher's Baltimore campus c. 1920

Around this time, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, whose daughter Jessie was a Goucher alumna, expressed support for the college's fundraising efforts in correspondences with the administration, writing in March 1913, "It would, indeed, be... evidence that our great educational public does not fully understand its own interests if an institution which has served with such faithfulness... in the cause of woman's [sic] education should be allowed to break up for the lack of money." [15] By 1914, Goucher was one of six "Class I" colleges for women in the U.S. [16] In 1921, Goucher purchased 421 acres of land in nearby Towson that had belonged to the estate of a prominent Baltimore family for $150,000, [17] some of which was later resold to provide funding for construction and other expenses. [18] The move was completed in 1953 after having been delayed by financial difficulties imposed by the Great Depression and World War II. [11] [8]

The college's original seal

Before 1950, Goucher hosted nearly a dozen sorority chapters on campus including Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Gamma Phi Beta, and Pi Beta Phi, until the school ceased recognizing the system. [19] Goucher became coeducational in 1986 when the board of trustees voted to admit men citing declining enrollment and reduced national interest by women in single-sex colleges. [20] Although the decision was at first controversial among some students and alumnae, it was followed by increased enrollment and sustained support from the school's donor base, with Goucher's endowment growing nearly five-fold from $45 million in 1986. [21] [22] Then-president Rhoda M. Dorsey, who also initially resisted the proposal, presided over the transition. [23] [18]

Goucher's former Baltimore campus is now known as Old Goucher. The complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. [24] [25] Many of its original structures, characterized by Romanesque influences, have been preserved and re-purposed for commercial, public, and residential use. [26]


A view down Van Meter Road

Goucher occupies a green, wooded 287-acre (1.16 km2) campus that is proximate and northeast to downtown Towson. Surrounding the central campus infrastructure is a dense forest, owned by the school, which features low hills as well as hiking and jogging trails. [27] The non-denominational Haebler Memorial Chapel lies near the center of campus. A single road, Van Meter, connects to most of the primary residential, academic, recreational, and athletic buildings. [28] Newsweek magazine described the campus as "unusually bucolic." [29] It has also been referred to by CBS Baltimore as one of Baltimore County’s most scenic college campuses. [30] A scene at the fictional "Hammond University" from Season 4 of the Netflix series House of Cards was filmed on Goucher's campus, with most shots taking place at the Athenaeum and the Rhoda M. Dorsey College Center. [31]

Academic buildings

The entrance to Van Meter Hall

Goucher's main academic buildings, including Van Meter Hall and Julia Rogers, are located at the northern portion of campus, called the "academic quad." [32] The Hoffberger Science Building houses the school's science departments and is adjacent to the Meyerhoff Arts Building, which contains a theater, photo studio, and several galleries and out of which the dance, theater, and art departments are based. [33] [34] Student Administrative Services and the admissions office are located in the Rhoda M. Dorsey College Center. Near the center of the campus and opposite Mary Fisher Hall is the Athenaeum, or "the Ath," a 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) modern, multipurpose facility, built in 2009, comprising the main library, an on-campus restaurant, exercise equipment, classrooms, lecture halls, and an open auditorium. The Athenaeum is where speakers who visit the campus are typically hosted. [35] The Merrick Lecture Hall, a partial amphitheater situated near Van Meter Hall, is also a regular venue for on-campus recitals, performances, sponsored political debates, and other productions. [36]

Welsh Hall, also known as "the T"

Housing and residential

The college's residence halls are concentrated on the south side of campus. They are Heubeck, Froelicher, Stimson, Mary Fisher, Sondheim, Stimson, Welsh Hall, known by students as "the T" for its T-shaped design, which was completed in 2005, and the newer Pagliaro Selz Hall, completed in 2016. [37] In 2018, the school completed construction of the "First-year Village" for freshmen. [38] Campus housing for students includes singles, doubles, triples, suites, and on-campus apartments. Sondheim is the sole residence hall designated as substance-free. [39] In July 2018, Goucher announced a campus-wide ban on cigarettes and all smoking devices, including electronic cigarettes. [40]

The Julia Rogers Building, which held Goucher's main library until 2009

Athletic and recreational facilities

The campus's outdoor sports facilities include a 107,000 square foot turf stadium field known on campus as "Gopher Stadium," a track, eight tennis courts as well as separate courts for racquetball and squash, and an equestrian center. The Decker Sports and Recreation Center contains a six-lane, 25-yard pool, dance studios, a basketball court, gymnasium, varsity locker rooms, a fully equipped weight room, and a cardio fitness center. The equestrian center lies on the northernmost edge of campus and contains a set of stables and a riding arena. [41]

The Rhoda M. Dorsey College Center

Design, layout, and sustainability

The architectural design firm responsible for planning the campus, Moore and Hutchins, elected to group buildings together into informal zones based on function, departing from the Romanesque style of the previous Baltimore campus. [42] The buildings on campus are clad in tan-colored Butler stone, which was chosen to reflect a Modernist theme. [43] Over the years, the architecture of the campus has won many awards. [44] The campus has also been recognized for its commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency, being called a "Top 25 Green College." [45] In 2009, Goucher implemented a plan for all new and existing buildings to achieve at least a Silver rating according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system. [46] In 2007, the campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places. [47]

Recent construction

The campus underwent significant changes when in 2017 several of its primary residential buildings were relocated as part of an extensive plan to construct a "First-year Village" comprising modernized residential halls and recreational facilities for newly matriculated freshmen. [48] [49] The new freshmen dorms have a capacity of 450 and opened in Fall 2018. [50] These developments coincided with substantial renovations to Mary Fisher Hall, in which its campus cafe was upgraded to a full-fledged, 550-seat dining hall. [51] [38] Goucher also announced plans to build a new 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) Science Research Center to provide additional lab space and resources for expanded biology, chemistry, and environmental science departments. [52] In order to raise capital for these projects, Goucher initiated a fundraising campaign to raise $100 million from alumni and other donors, of which it has raised $43 million to date. [53] [54]



University rankings
Forbes [55] 217
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report [56] 116
Washington Monthly [57] 98

In the U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings for 2019, Goucher tied for 116th among national liberal arts colleges, 12th in Most Innovative Schools, and 67th in High School Counselor Rankings. [58] Forbes ranked Goucher at #111 in Liberal Arts Universities, #129 in the Northeast, and #217 nationally among private colleges. [59] Washington Monthly ranked Goucher at #98 among liberal arts colleges in 2018. [60] The Princeton Review included Goucher in its 2019 edition of the "Best 384 Colleges" [61] and ranked it #2 in "Most Popular Study Abroad Program" behind Hobart and William Smith. [62] Goucher was also recognized as a top producer of Fulbright scholars by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2018. [63]

Undergraduate level

As of 2018, students choose from 33 different majors and six interdisciplinary programs; there are also special orientation courses for first-year students. The most popular majors are in the humanities and social sciences, languages, biological sciences, and performing arts. [64] Goucher is also well-known for its creative writing, dance, and pre-med departments. The student-faculty ratio is 10:1, and the average class size is 17. [65] [66] Goucher is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. [67]

Goucher began requiring all undergraduates to study abroad in 2006, which was the most notable of several reforms to the school's curriculum in that period. [68] A popular choice for students is a three-week course abroad during the winter, spring, or summer. Goucher offers over 60 semester and yearlong study-abroad programs in 30 countries but allows students to register in programs by other schools. [69] Undergraduates are also expected to either complete an internship, participate in community engagement work, or work as a faculty research assistant. Goucher sponsors a competitive grant program for students participating in summer internships. [70] [71]

In 2017, Goucher instituted a revamped set of general education requirements into the curriculum called "Goucher Commons" including a first-year seminar, emphasis on writing, data analytics, and foreign language and culture, a capstone course, and inquiry into at least two areas. [72] [73] In 2018, Goucher announced plans to eliminate seven majors, including mathematics, physics, religion, music, and Russian studies, following a "Program Prioritization Process" involving faculty [74] which cited low overall interest in those majors among students. [75] [76] The school said that advanced courses in these subjects will remain part of the overall curriculum and that the entering class of 2022 and students currently studying in those majors will be unaffected by the change. [77]

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan speaks with students in the Athenaeum

Graduate level

Goucher's graduate program is run out of the Welch Center for Graduate and Professional Studies and grants Master of Arts, Master of Education, and Master of Fine Arts degrees. [78]

Certificate and non-degree programs

Since 1993, Goucher has offered a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program with 96% of students over the course of its history gaining acceptance to medical school and 99.7% over the past decade. [79] [80] Goucher also grants certificates through a program for teachers called the AP (Advanced Placement) Summer Institute recognizing specialties with at-risk learners, middle school, reading instruction, improving school leadership, and educational technology. [81]

Student life

Clubs and extracurriculars

Goucher has over 60 student-run clubs including the Chem Club, which is the oldest continuously operating club on campus, Hillel, an a capella group called Red Hot Blue, a poetry club, a black student union called Umoja, Model United Nations, and a student-labor action committee. [82] The college also publishes a bi-weekly student newspaper called The Quindecim and a literary arts journal called Preface. [83] Other media run by the school is Goucher Student Radio, which contains a host of student, staff, and faculty programming and is streamed online. [84] Many students also participate in Goucher Student Government, which holds elections, oversees the activities of clubs, passes resolutions, and votes on matters affecting the general student body. [85] Similar to several other private liberal arts schools in the northeast, Goucher does not recognize any fraternities or sororities on campus. [86]


The gopher is Goucher's mascot.

Goucher athletic teams are known as the Gophers. In 2007 the college joined the Landmark Conference after competing as a member of the Capital Athletic Conference from 1991 to 2007. [87] [88] Goucher competes in NCAA Division III, fielding men's and women's teams in lacrosse, soccer, [89] basketball, track and field, cross country, swimming, and tennis, as well as women's teams in field hockey and volleyball. Goucher also competes nationally in coed equestrian sports through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. [90]


Goucher has a high female-male ratio: approximately 68% of undergraduates are female. [91] About 35% of the student body identify as African-American, Asian, Hispanic, or Native-American. [92] Goucher also has one of the highest percentages of Jewish students in the country at 31% according to Hillel International. [93] Goucher attracts students both nationally and internationally; Undergraduates in 2017 came from 46 states and 50 countries. [94] Twenty-five percent of students qualify for Pell Grants, and Goucher has been recognized for its success in graduating Pell Grant recipients as compared to the national average. [95] [96] For the class of 2021, the top five represented home states were Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and California, and 24% of the incoming class were first-generation college students. [97]

Other activities on campus

Goucher has in the past hosted the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth summer program for gifted students. The school also regularly conducts the Goucher Poll, which operates under the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. [98] The polling is performed by Goucher students out of a 40-station computer-aided telephone interviewer lab. [99] Goucher students are credited with conceiving the nationally popular campus game Humans vs. Zombies [100], which occurs at Goucher annually and is organized by students, and the commercial party game Cards Against Humanity. [101] Another of the school's annual traditions is known as GIG, "Get into Goucher," in which students participate in campus-wide celebrations and festivities such as music concerts and other carnival-like activities. [102]

Notable faculty and alumni

Well-known members of the Goucher faculty and professors emeritus include Jean H. Baker and Julie Roy Jeffrey of the history department, Nancy Hubbard from the business and accounting department, former president Sanford J. Ungar, and authors Madison Smartt Bell and Elizabeth Spires, who oversee the college's Kratz Center for Creative Writing. [103] [104]

Goucher has over 21,000 living alumni, and many of its graduates have gone on to make contributions in the arts and literature, journalism, academia, government, sciences, and other fields. [105] Prominent alumni include conservative commentator and senior editor for the National Review Jonah Goldberg, former first lady of Puerto Rico Lucé Vela, 27th Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard Sally Brice-O’Hara, 26th Chief of Chaplains for the United States Navy Margaret G. Kibben, former president of Public Citizen Joan Claybrook, president of California State University, San Marcos, Karen S. Haynes, [106] former president of First Republic Bank Katherine August-DeWilde, federal judges Ellen Lipton Hollander for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland and Phyllis A. Kravitch for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and former chairwoman of the U.S. International Trade Commission Paula Stern. [107]


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