Alderson Broaddus University students, alumni, faculty and staff celebrated the new university status of the school with the unveiling of a redesigned mascot and entrance sign Monday.
"This is an exciting day," President Richard Creehan said. "Today's festivities are really a celebration of our students to enjoy our new university status."
Creehan is the ninth president in the more than 140-year life of the college, but the first president of Alderson Broaddus University, Associate Provost Eric Shore said at the name change celebration.
"The new status is a continued growth," Creehan said. "We want to continue to grow in both our undergraduate and graduate programs. This is a really exciting time for us."
Alderson Broaddus University has grown over the past couple of years, welcoming 500 new students this year. Those numbers include freshmen and transfer students. It's the school's largest freshman class, Creehan said. The growth expands the institution's current enrollment to more than 1,100, surpassing the previous year's record-breaking numbers.
Eleven of the new students are native to other countries throughout the globe, Creehan said, adding that the change from a college to a university puts the institution in the market to attract international interest. Creehan said that the number of international students will only increase over the years.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who was unable to attend, sent a greeting with his regional director, Todd Anderson.
"This small change will make a huge impact on recruitment and will more accurately represent the scope of AB's many programs," Anderson read from Manchin's greeting. "I believe the best way to invest in West Virginia's future is to invest in the next generation, our students."
Although the recent changes may seem sudden for the university, Alderson Broaddus representatives have worked at the institution's new goals for growth behind the scenes for more than two years.
"It's been a whirlwind, 24 months of just dynamic changes," Creehan said.
Alderson Broaddus University opened its campus to students with more than a new name this year. It welcomes four new residential living quarters, a new completed football stadium, the redesign of its mascot "Skirmish," the new alma mater "ABU Fight Song," new signs and a refreshed eye for the future.
Creehan said that more announcements will be made in the coming weeks. Those announcements include the unveiling of new graduate programs and the introduction of new international programs.
"We've created such a vibrant campus," Creehan said. "I believe that we are West Virginia's premier private education. We think that 'university' better reflects who we are today."
Although the name change took place back in June at the West Virginia state capitol with a number of Alderson Broaddus representatives in attendance, Monday's celebration was for the students and faculty. Creehan said that the formal sign changes on campus were held off until students and faculty could return to Philippi.
"This day is for our students and our faculty," Creehan said. "The faculty and students who have seen the years where we did not prosper are now seeing the years of prosperity. Growth and prosperity is our new agenda.
"This is an institution that is on the move, on the growth and has great momentum. We have our destiny in front of us. Our destiny is to be the premier private education in West Virginia."
Creehan thanked the University Task Force and the Alderson Broaddus University Board of Trustees for helping make the growth of the institution possible.