Continued Focus on Growth

Since I published my last blog, three important enrollment initiatives have occurred.  Last weekend many of us met on our Cochran, Eastman, and Macon campuses to welcome hundreds of students and their guests to our first ever fully-fledged Open Houses.  I thank the many staff and faculty who did an amazing job, with many of our Facilities staff even coming in at 5am that morning.  For several weeks many of us prepared for this occasion, and it was clearly a great success.  By the end of the day, 222 students had registered for Fall classes and hundreds more were in the Admissions process.  We host our second Open Houses in late April and I thank you in advance for the work that many of us are doing to prepare for those.  We learned much from the first experience and can offer our visitors an even stronger experience in a few weeks.

Additionally last week I formally asked the Provost to renew and re-energize our Retention, Progression and Graduation (RPG) system and processes.  While we have seen growing numbers of  new student applications and admissions to the University, and have witnessed growth in areas such as Aviation and Information Technology, our overall enrollment has stayed virtually flat – and even marginally lower – than last year.  Why? In short, too many of our students do not complete their courses of study to graduation.  It is our clear responsibility under the USG Year of Momentum to thus create pathways and advising interventions that ensure we increase our retention and graduation rates.  Indeed, retention is as important a part of our enrollment strategy as recruitment.  And so I have asked the Provost to build an actionable system for immediate impact, utilizing our experience and expertise in the the faculty, in student life and in fiscal affairs.  We can collectively be grateful to all who will engage in this essential RPG initiative and work in the coming months.

We also, of course, are searching for a new Vice President of Enrollment Management, and the next six weeks will be critical in bringing that process to a successful conclusion.  The Search Committee is undertaking crucial work that will help us build a culture of leadership and strength in the coming years in our enrollment strategy.

This past week, the USG issued its Spring semester enrollment report for the system as a whole.  Fourteen institutions saw an enrollment increase, and fourteen institutions saw an enrollment drop this semester, compared to spring 2017.  MGA showed a 1% drop in our student headcount and FTE.  We can take much pride in reducing that negative gap from 4.8% last Fall to only 1% this semester.  But neighboring institutions in central Georgia saw enrollment increases, and now we must join that cohort of colleges and universities in the region trending toward growth.

As our students begin to prepare for the final weeks of the semester, and as we anticipate saying goodbye to the Class of 2018, let us keep our efforts on growing our programs and student enrollment this summer and fall.  We have made amazing strides this year in building a stronger enrollment process and it is vital we stay focused on that task.  Thank you for what each of us is doing to grow our wonderful University.