retention and enrollment

For those of us who were around last year, you may remember reading a message from the administration saying “An unexpected drop in enrollment has caused Wittenberg to earnestly grapple with its financial situation.” And perhaps you remember pressure felt on campus as a result or may have worried about Wittenberg’s student body and faculty shrinking in size, this may leave you with questions about how Wittenberg is fairing this year?
According to Dr. Jeff Ankrom Professor of Economics and Fa.. Affairs IR, the average of Wittenberg’s retention rate is 78.4% for a 10 year period, which is consistent with the numbers for the 2010, and 2011 year. The retention rate for 2012 to 2013 year has not yet been finalized but it is expected to be below average. If anyone had any doubts enrollment is already improving. Ankrom says “the number of new students we have is up by 50 students from last fall”, this means 549 new freshmen have joined Wittenberg for the 2013 year. The total enrollment of traditional students for the fall of 2013 is 1,788. When we add the number of nontraditional students into the mix the count is brought up to the 1900’s a number that hardly represents a diminished student body.
Currently Wittenberg is maintaining multiple initiative programs to aid enrollment and retention as well as provide services for new students. Many of these efforts are focused on first year students. Some information suggests that the changes seen at Wittenberg might be due to reasons outside of falling retention and financial instability.
On the subject of retention Dr. Hasecke Professor of Political Science and Wittenberg alumnus says “The Literature would say that the students who might leave decide within the first three weeks if this (meaning college) is not for them.”
As for the losses seen in faculty and staff Hasecke says “There is a realization that we have a faulty that is larger than our student body can currently support.” Hasecke continues with “When it comes to faculty some of that has to do with tenure and promotion decisions that are a part of the faculty decision making process so you’re going to see some of the people leave for reasons like that.”
Mary Jo Zembar PhD Assistant Provost for Academic Services and Student Success, and Professor of Psychology explains that retention working groups as well as focus groups have been used to answer why some students choose to leave Wittenberg. Most shockingly not one student has reported concern for Wittenberg’s stability or future as a reason for leaving. According to Zembar the top four reasons students leave are; they don’t know what to study, they feel homesick, their experience in sports did not work out, or that they have finical concerns. Zembar says there maybe fewer numbers but it might be as large as you think, Last year was challenging because students were worried about individual programs”, she stresses that we still have our music department and have welcomed a very robust freshman class size.

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