What our enrollment growth tells us about VCSU

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You are likely aware that VCSU’s spring 2018 enrollment is up in comparison to last year at this time, or any previous January. We achieved a record spring semester enrollment of 1,500 students, following a fall 2017 record enrollment (1,522 students) as well. Some of the programs that have seen growth this spring are Elementary Education (plus 33 students), Music (plus 12), and Fisheries and Wildlife Science (plus 6). The growth at VCSU is partly the vision and work of three recent presidents. Dr. Chaffee focused on online education and building a graduate program to serve our regional educators; Dr. Shirley focused on increasing student numbers in the sciences, along with a new building (Rhoades Science Center) to support recruiting and to house the resulting program growth. Both presidents set an enrollment goal of 1,500 students, and, while this number was not attained during their tenure, Dr. Mason was able to build on their work to reach that number in fall 2017.Reaching this enrollment goal tells us some important things about VCSU.First, it indicates that students are staying here rather than moving on to a larger campus or leaving school before they complete a degree. That shows we have engaged their interest, made them feel welcome and supported, and offered valuable coursework and experience that connect them to their intended career paths.Second, it shows that campus leaders who envisioned new programs in education, science, and music had a good sense of the quality programming we could offer that would draw students to our campus. Dr. Chaffee (new graduate program), Dr. Shirley (science program growth), Dr. Mason (new graduate degree), and Dr. Skroch (online music) had it right, and now we are seeing the results of their hard work.Third, it makes the dedication of faculty and staff to our students visible. We have amazing employees here who care deeply about the success of our students—something students here experience every day in the classroom, at the Business Office counter, in the Student Center. Wherever they turn, people know their names and make them feel part of the community.Fourth, it says that VCSU is a dynamic place that is interested in continuous improvement. We are connected to the changing needs of the region, students’ career goals, and improving approaches as we engage and work with diverse student generations.And finally, it says that we have strong support from our community and alumni. We know that money is tight, both in our budget and yours, and we—and our students—are grateful for your generosity that helps support scholarships, facility improvements, and athletic activities. Together, we are making life better for our students and our future.