Institutions of higher learning have been facing declining enrollment in recent years, but in 2015 Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, California University of Pennsylvania and Waynesburg University are tackling the issue head on.
Celebrating it’s 50th anniversary in 2015, Penn State Fayette hopes to grow by attracting new and retaining old students.
“The campus has faced some enrollment challenges, as many colleges in western PA have, but the new campus leadership is addressing those challenges and developing new strategies to increase campus enrollments,” said Robert Tallerico, director of enrollment management at Penn State Fayette.
The branch campus in Lemont Furnace is expanding its degree programs and its focus on retaining students.
“Some examples include: new degree programs in nursing, accounting, psychology, with more to come, (and) creation of the Student Success Center and emphasis on retention. A Retention Task Force was created this year to identify and address needs and degree completion, expansion of our dual enrollment program for high school students, a focus on scheduling classes at different times throughout the week to provide flexible scheduling, engaging community partners such as the IU, school districts, and the Chamber of Commerce to expand educational opportunities,” Tallerico said. “The campus remains optimistic about the future.”
Chancellor Dr. Charles Patrick has recognized that many students who attend Penn State Fayette, wish to stay local; therefore, he wants to see the campus grow in a way that aids students in achieving that goal.
“Penn State Fayette’s official fall 2014 enrollment was 717 students, a decline from the previous fall semester. The leadership team at Penn State Fayette has made increasing enrollment a top priority and is optimistic that a number of program and personnel changes made this year to both enroll new students and retain current students will result in an increased enrollment over the next few years. Currently, for fall 2015, new student applications and offers of admission are higher than last year at the same time,” he said.
In September, Patrick was appointed as the chancellor and chief academic officer of Penn State Fayette.
Continuing partnerships with county school districts, as well as the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council, is part of the campus’ future as well.
Last summer, faculty at The Eberly Campus, partnered with employees of Chevron this summer to teach, mentor, and expose 55 local high school students to the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) during two career exploration camps. And the campus held a program for area math teachers, providing them with tools to enhance their curriculum.
“Those are the types of things that we want to continue to do,” said Patrick. “You build a campus by building the community.”
Penn State will also host a series of events throughout the year to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary including Founders Day in May and the Golden Gala in November.
Cal U is also taking a proactive approach to a small percent decline in enrollment through the introduction of in-demand programs and capitalizing on the business of its campus.
“We are introducing five new academic programs, including two graduate-level programs that offer a new type of degree: a Professional Science Master’s. All these programs are in high-demand fields, subject areas where there is both high student interest and excellent job prospects,” said Christine Kindl, director of marketing and university relations.
The new programs are in sociology: deviance; applied behavior analysis; cybersecurity; applied mathematics; and conflict resolution.
The enrollment numbers at Cal U for the spring semester are down slightly, with 7,626 students enrolled, just 85 students, or 1.1 percent less than in 2014. This represents a much smaller decline than the university has seen in recent years according to Kindl.
Kindl also notes the university’s success with other high-impact programs introduced recently.
“Our Land Management program, for example, has seen an enrollment increase of nearly 50 percent in its first year. And the new online MBA: entrepreneurship program is close to tripling its initial enrollment. So we are optimistic that these five new programs will also bring new students to our doors,” said Kindl.
Recruitment efforts at Cal U are also being broadened by reaching out to high school students to get involved and consider their post-secondary options
“Our Convocation Center, where we have academic events scheduled nearly every weekend this semester. Quite literally, we are bringing thousands of high school students to our campus for cheer and dance competitions, a winter ensemble competition, Science Olympiad, two different robotics contests, and other academically focused events. Many of these students are visiting our campus for the first time — and we are making an effort to introduce them to all that Cal U has to offer. To supplement our face-to-face interactions, we’ve even placed a couple of touchscreen kiosks in the Convocation Center lobby, so students and their families can explore Cal U’s program offerings during ‘downtime’ at these events and contact admissions on the spot to request more information,” Kindl said.
Through partnerships and integrated programs as well as campus improvements, Waynesburg University hopes to grow its enrollment, which has also seen a 1 percent decline in recent years.
Waynesburg now has cooperative agreements with West Virginia University School of Medicine, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Chatham University’s master of occupational therapy program and Chatham University’s doctor of physical therapy program. In addition, the university now offers three integrated bachelor’s to master’s programs in business, counseling and education for its 1,400 undergraduate and 600 graduate students.
According to President Douglas G. Lee, the university is proud of what its students are able to accomplish.
“With more than 70 quality undergraduate majors, a growing number of master’s and doctoral programs and endless internship placement possibilities, Waynesburg students graduate to ensure a strong future.
This year, two communication students received prestigious national scholarships in public relations, while our counseling and nursing students achieved 100 percent pass rates on national exams. The American Chemical Society Chapter at Waynesburg received an Outstanding Award and students excelled in internships across the nation. We’re preparing a new generation of leaders,” he said.
At each stage of their academic careers, Waynesburg are invited to engage in research opportunities that not only develop their expanding portfolios, but also allow them to identify and hone specific research interests.
Recent student research topics include Alzheimer’s, artificial sweeteners, Christian community development, effects of fatigue, food chain length and nutrition awareness.
Last fall, Waynesburg welcomed students representing 53 different majors and a variety of different states, including but not limited to California, Colorado, Florida, Texas and Virginia.
The remodeling of Stewart Science Hall began in the fall of 2012. The project has completed three of its six phases and will likely be completed in 2017.
Phases one and two included a large addition to the building with common lounge areas for students and replacing the bricking on the entire building.
By November of 2014, the roof and windows of the building were redone, and the fifth floor will be demolished and rebuilt ending phase three.
Last spring Lee outlined the project’s anticipated timeline.
“Phase four will be in 2015 and that will be the fourth floor’s renovation,” he said. “Phase five will be in 2016 and that will be the third floor. In phase six, which will be in 2017, we will be redoing pieces of the first and second floor. It’s the largest single endeavor we’ve undertaken as a university, monetary wise. It’s $23 million and it’s over five years.”
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