York College to become York University in 2022

Posted September 24, 2021
Building on a long heritage of preparing students for service to God, family, and society, York College will change its name to York University in 2022. The transition was announced September 23, 2021, by Dr. Sam Smith ’95 during his inauguration as the institution’s 21st president.

“The name change may sound abrupt," Smith said, “but the process from an unaccredited junior college many years ago to accreditation to offering four-year degrees to the addition of our graduate programs has been anything but abrupt.  It has taken years, and the time is right to move forward.”

“Although the name will change, some things will not.  Our institutional mission, identity, values, and vision will remain focused on transforming lives through Christ-centered education, equipping students for lifelong service to God, family and society.”​- President Smith


A Longtime Vision


dale larsen
The name change also honors the late Dr. Dale Larsen, York College's fourteenth president, whose vision for the school led to his tireless efforts to re-open the shuttered institution in 1956. His dream included regional accreditation, four-year degrees, and much more. In his last comments to the campus, delivered by a recorded message during the 2009 homecoming chapel, he said, “And we believe that in years to come instead of calling them (our alumni) former York College students we might even call them former York University students.” While Dr. Larsen’s words were always carefully measured, his dream for the institution was bold and irrepressible.



Why York University? Why Now?

York College transitioned to York University during the summer of 2022. The name change decision was finalized by the trustees at in January 2021.

Following is a brief overview of reasons for the change.

1. The name change provides clarity about the type of institution we are and what we offer prospective students in an era of split-second evaluations. As the definition of the word ‘college’ morphs over time, there is a growing tendency to mean either ‘technical’ or ‘community’ college. In contrast, university implies a comprehensive curriculum and multiple degree options, often including graduate studies. These criteria fully reflect who we are as we recruit students from across the nation and around the globe. Making the strongest case possible with our name has become increasingly important as a growing number of our student recruits have no prior relationship with the institution.

2. For alumni and long-time friends, the name change removes any question about whether or not York is “still a two-year college.” Additionally, for alumni the university title is a plus on a resume, providing clarity about your academic preparation when seeking career advancement or additional education. 

3. Advent of York College Online (YCO) is already changing the academic structure of the institution. YCO has a growing independent infrastructure to meet the specific needs of these programs. With substantial growth in online graduate programs, the university name more accurately reflects the institution’s current profile.

4. Transition happens best in an atmosphere of momentum. With more than a decade of stability, success, and growth, this is a good time to make the change. Record enrollments two years in a row and a newly announced comprehensive fundraising campaign provide the context to sustain and accelerate this momentum.

The Backstory

The transition is the latest chapter in a story that began more than 130 years ago. York College has changed ownership twice since its 1890 founding, but the charter and the name have remained unchanged. The institution, however, is not the same, and the context in which we compete bears no resemblance to late 19th-century America.

Since York College reopened in 1956, major milestones include:

  • Two-year accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), 1970
  • HLC accreditation for our initial four-year degrees, 1989
  • Unrestricted accreditation to offer a full range of four-year degrees, 1994
  • HLC accreditation for graduate programs in Education (2011) and Leadership (2016)

Discussions about changing our name to York University began years ago and were complete in Summer 2022. Although the name has changed, some things have not. Our institutional mission, identity, values, and vision will remain focused on transforming lives through Christ-centered education.



  1. Payment on student accounts will be unchanged. After the name change is complete, we will retain a d/b/a (doing business as) York College status for the foreseeable future. Payments will be accepted to York College or York University for the fall 2022 semester.
  2. ​Students finishing degree requirements after the Spring 2022 commencement will be awarded diplomas from York University.

  1. Transcripts processed after July 1, 2022 will be issued by York University with that name on the document. A  notation on the back will state that our former name was York College.
  2. For your resume, vita, or any job or graduate/professional school applications, use the York University name, accompanied with a note: (Formerly known as York College). List it as: York University (Formerly known as York College)
  3. Replacement diplomas with York University named as your alma mater will be an option for alumni after the spring 2022 semester is complete. At that time, you may place your request by completing the York U diploma form. The price for a new diploma is $25. York College replacement diplomas will be available while supplies last.
  4. Campus landmarks, especially the York College ‘arch’ on Kiplinger Avenue, will be honored and retained after the name change. York College is part of our identity and that will not change. We will celebrate our heritage even as we embrace our future.
    Official York College shirts, hats, and other materials will continue to be available in the bookstore while supplies last.

  1. To simplify giving to York College/York University for donors, we will retain a d/b/a (doing business as) York College status for years to come. Whether your gift is designated for York College or York University, it can be easily receipted, recognized, and appreciated. In either case, your gifts will continue to be acknowledged as a charitable deduction for tax purposes.
  2. The provision for us to accept gifts for either York College or York University means that any provisions you have made for a donation, whether through a testamentary gift, as a beneficiary of an IRA, or other account will still be valid after July 1, 2022. ​

  1. York College will retain a d/b/a (doing business as) York College once we transition to York University.  The d/b/a gives vendors time to transition to the new name.
  2. Remaining payroll and accounts payable work processes will be formatted to use all existing York College checks in order to be fiscally responsible. VP of Finance will begin using new university labeled checks when old supplies lapse.
  3. You can transition to billing us as York University beginning when we are registered with the Secretary of State.
  4. Reminders will be included with payments after July 2022.
  5. We will have an indefinite period of d/b/a York College.