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The University of Saint Joseph will admit full-time undergraduate men starting in the fall of 2018 following a decision by its Board of Trustees announced Wednesday.

The institution in West Hartford, Conn., believes the move will give it the chance to expand its undergraduate programs. Leaders also said it will boost the diversity of academic thought in classrooms and create a more active student life.

The university already admits male graduate students and a small number of part-time undergraduate men in limited programs.

“Studies show that less than 1 percent of full-time female college students today attend a women’s college and only 2 percent of female high school seniors say they would consider attending a women’s college,” the university’s president, Rhona Free, said in a statement. “Admitting men will open our doors to 98 percent more women who would otherwise not even consider our high-quality, distinctive educational experience here at USJ.”

The university began a review of the idea of admitting men in November 2016. A dozen task force groups examined areas such as mission, academic programs and student life. Free said meetings with faculty, staff, students and graduates led to a consensus that students’ interests have changed and they want an environment that reflects the “real world.”

Initial reaction on social media was largely negative, with some commenters saying they believe alumnae are against the change.