President's Newsletter October 2015

Enrollment and Budget

The university community welcomed 402 freshmen to campus and 92 full-time transfer students during orientation weekend. This was our second largest class of first-year students. They boast the strongest academic profile in school history. As reported back in August, overall enrollment was aided by a second consecutive year of positive freshman retention (77%), but upper class attrition was higher than expected. With the number of students living on campus rising to an all-time high, topping 950, we have reconfirmation that strong residential enrollment is key for us.

The overall discount rate continues to track higher than budget due to the increased financial support provided the past two freshmen classes. Recall the freshmen of 2014 demonstrated higher levels of need and had a much larger percentage of the class “with need.” This year, freshmen received a higher percentage of merit awards primarily due to higher-than-projected OT enrollment.

For freshmen, out-of-state student enrollment remained even with last year at about 25% (down from the 30% achieved several years ago). We also continued to be challenged to attract larger numbers of highly qualified male students, though this year’s entering class had better balance at 32% male. Transfer students remained a challenging area, and we again missed our goal by a significant margin with retention of transfer students also decreasing. Each of these areas will require our combined attention moving forward.

The School of Graduate and Adult Education continues to track below budget goal. A primary reason for the shortfall stems from a higher than normal number of financial holds with returning adult education students. New student enrollment is comparable to last fall’s level. We continue to explore ways for our current offerings to better address features that adult students are seeking in terms of flexible scheduling, convenient class times, and accelerated program options.

To support growth in the school, new partnerships to offer degree programs were established with Manor College in Jenkintown, Pa., and Gaudenzia Healthcare Systems in Philadelphia. Manor College students will be able to earn Alvernia Bachelor of Science degrees in a number of programs while studying at their Jenkintown location. Gaudenzia employees will study at Alvernia’s Philadelphia Center.

Alvernia Online is beginning to show signs of progress as enrollments in online programs are posting modest growth. This fall, four new programs were added (RN-BSN, Behavioral Health, Healthcare Science and Business) to the two existing online degree programs.

In addition, a new program will soon get underway with one of the area’s largest employers to provide leadership training for the company’s managers. This is just the latest in a series of partnerships we have developed with the region’s most prominent employers to provide training and degree programs to their employees.

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president's newsletter october 2015

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