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Pre-empting Enrollment Crises

By Net Assets posted 01-28-2019 11:52 AM


(from Insider Higher Ed) Strategically shrinking enrollments to become more selective, revamping the curriculum, going co-ed — small, private colleges and universities are using these and other strategies to attempt to ward off enrollment crises before they become serious financial threats. Leaders of schools using these strategies shared insights last week at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. 

One example is Allegheny College's decision to "strategically recruit fewer students" in order to become more selective, starting with the 2018 recruiting cycle. Ron Cole, provost and dean of the 204-year-old school, said the peak 2,100-enrollment target will shrink by several hundred over 10 years. To help recruit and retain students with a higher academic profile, Allegheny added majors in business and and also added men's lacrosse and women's field hockey teams.

On the expense side, Allegheny set out to reduce what Cole called the "proliferation" of the course catalog, cutting some courses and having faculty collaborate on others. In addition, the board approved a retirement initiative to prepare for needing fewer faculty members to support a smaller student body. Key to success has been communication, Cole said, including ongoing meetings with faculty and program chairs to explain the rightsizing process.

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