2,020 by 2020: Becoming a reality

By Leah Miza, Photo Editor

As of Friday, Sept. 2 the final numbers are in. Ohio Wesleyan’s first year class of 2016 sprung by 11.4 percent this fall, creating higher and more realistic chances of reachig a total of 2,020 students by the year 2020.

This increase in numbers went hand-in- hand with newly incorporated tactics by the university.

The idea was first passed by the Board of Trustees (BOT) at their February campus retreat, earlier this year. According to the campus retreat report, the board called for a 25 percent growth in total student body over the next five years.

There has been ongoing work since.

Susan Dileno, vice president of enrollment, said many measures influenced the increase in the first year class number, including a revamp of their open house formats and tours, and paying a lot more attention to branding.

“We had Rock [Jones] travel around the country,” she said. “We did around 15 guidance counselor receptions around the U.S.”

Dileno also said the boost in allocating more need-based aid rather than merit scholarships and the addition of a new business major could be other possible factors that contributed to the increase in the freshman class number.

President Rock Jones said that this is a “great first start,” but more needs to be done, including new academic programs and increasing the number of student athletes.

“We’re working to increase transfer student enrollment and we have a significant agenda for increasing international student enrollment,” Jones said. “All of which feeds into increasing the enrollment of 2,020 by 2020.”

Jones and Dileno both stressed the importance of retention rates and anticipate a rise this year.

“We need to continue work on the campus and in particular the residential facilities,” Jones said.

“We’re looking at an idea related to housing for first year students which would be part of our much more comprehensive first year initiatives that will help improve retention.”

Dwayne Todd, vice president for student engagement and success, said that one important step in the retention plan was hiring Brad Pulcini, assistant dean for student engagement and director of the first-year experience.

Todd also stressed the importance of altering the housing facilities for freshmen and continuing students, which has slowly started through the newly built SLUplexes.

“We will begin to expand our planning to improve the housing facilities that serve our other continuing students, including those who live in fraternity houses,” Todd said. “We are currently involved in intensive work to develop plans for a new first-year student housing complex.”

Executives are also working to improve infastructre around campus, which began during the summer with the paving of sidewalks outside Edgar and behind Merrick as well as big renovations in Slocum Hall to the Office of Admission.

According to Todd, they are working with the BOT to determine financial resources, and “look forward to sharing more with the OWU community as soon as we are able.”

Faculty take aim for 2020

Matt Cohen, Editor-in-Chief

Fourteen empty chairs sat in the front row as President Rock Jones stood behind the birch plywood podium and addressed the room filled with Ohio Wesleyan faculty during their Monday, Feb. 29 meeting, the second official meeting of the semester.

The faculty discussed options to increase enrollment, but Jones began by thanking everyone who was involved with the I³ 30-minute lecture and the production of “Artifice.” He was impressed by the diverse crowd of the lectures and called the production a “terrific, major production.”

Jones then asked a popular question: What’s the right size of OWU and “what strategies will achieve that size?”

A long list of ways to reach the goal of 2,020 students by the year 2020 was presented. A couple of those items to improve upon were career services, athletics, international admission strategies, regional recruiters and the physical campus, which Jones talked about and said “we’ve made strides, but there’s more to be done.” He also specifically brought up the improvement of first-year housing.

Chris Wolverton, professor of botany-microbiology and the chair of the Committee on University Governance, began with a PowerPoint to highlight student recruitment, student experience, program initiative and physical campus.

He reiterated the importance in finding the right students when recruiting.

“Identify students who are able to pay so we can continue to offer heavily discounted tuitions to those who need it.”

When talking about student experience, Wolverton said he wanted to get the point across to potential students.

“What are we about?” he said. “We could be about 50,000 things, but if [students] don’t see themselves here, they won’t come.”

The equation “630 + 85% = 2,026” was left on the screen. Wolverton explained that 630 represents the number of students and the percent represents retention rate.

When talking about the retention rate, which is currently at 81 percent, Wolverton said there’s a lot of work behind the number.

“It’s arguable this number is doable,” he said. “Redesigning the entire student life side of campus.”

When Wolverton pointed out the bold new strategy of the Board of Trustees, Michael Flamm, a faculty member, said, “We invest in the future because the faculty don’t take salary increases.”

Ellen Arnold, Andrew Brandt, Glenn Bryan, Susan Gunasti and David Councilman were awarded tenure and a neuroscience major with behavioral/cognitive and cellular/molecular tracks was approved by unanimous vote.

2,020 students by 2020

WCSA members talk to Trustees during their winter visit to campus. Photo by Olivia Lease.
WCSA members talk to Trustees during their winter visit to campus. Photo by Olivia Lease.

Areena Arora, Managing Editor

Olivia Lease, Online Editor

The Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees (BOT) passed a resolution to support the goal of enrolling 2,020 students by 2020 when they visited last week.

This goal, according to the BOT campus retreat report shared by President Rock Jones with faculty, calls for a 25 percent growth in total student body over the next five years. Ten faculty members were also present with the trustees for discussion.

On Feb. 11, Wesleyan Council of Student Affairs (WCSA) invited the Board of Trustees to dinner to discuss a myriad of issues and celebrate their love for the school.

Topics such as the importance socioeconomic and racial diversity among the students, and enhancing school spirit were discussed. Also at issue were the appropriate role of academic advisors and campus accessibility for students with different abilities.

In his opening statement, Thomas Tritton ‘69, chairperson of the board, said, “We [the board members] love coming back to campus because it allows us to reminisce. We love sharing good memories, and of course, blocking out the bad ones.”

Addressing the students present, Tritton said, “You all are going to be us someday. I hope that doesn’t scare you too much. It should inspire you instead.”

Junior Jess Choate, president of WCSA, said she wanted those in attendance at the dinner to focus on “looking to the past in order to better the present.”

Choate talked about discontinued OWU traditions such as Spring Fever Day during which a bell was rung and the students were allowed to ditch class in exchange for other fun activities. WCSA, she said, is aiming to reintroduce old traditions.

The idea of rethinking OWU’s plentiful travel opportunities was also discussed. Laurie Anderson, professor of botany-microbiology, suggested offering a competitive scholarship so more students can go on travel-learning courses.

Will Kopp, chief communications officer, suggested the idea of an “angel fund” or emergency scholarship to help students who are struggling to pay tuition. “It’s just a shame,” he said.

Senior Emma Drongowski, former WCSA vice president, who was in attendance and remembered planning the event last year, said, “It’s very stressful. I mean, people on the Board of Trustees are very important people and they have a limited amount of time on campus. So as a student, we know how valuable that time is.”

“At my table, we talked about varying abilities of students coming in, specifically academic-level abilities and how to best support them,” said Drongowski. “I think all the issues talked about today [at the dinner] were important, but the overall question on most people’s minds was retention just because that is indicative of a lot of other things on campus.”

According to U.S. News and World Report’s 2011 edition of America’s Best Colleges, OWU’s retention rate was 87 percent. The current rate however, is 81 percent, showing a drop of 6 percent in the past five years. In 2011, OWU had the lowest freshman retention rate of the Five Colleges of Ohio or the Ohio5 (Oberlin, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan, Denison and Wooster).

Gregory Moore ’76 said, “I love the big 2020 plan. We want to get more students to come and stay. The trustees are really starting to echo with what students have been saying. We are starting to listen more.”

During the retreat, the board reviewed results of the Student Satisfaction Inventory survey, which was collected in October 2015, and engaged, along with faculty, in conversations with students about ways to enhance the student experience and increase student satisfaction and success, according to the retreat report.

In an email, Rock Jones, the president of OWU, said, “This is an exciting time at the university as we set out on this new, critical pathway. We must embrace appropriate change while remaining true to our historic mission, be willing to take urgent action, keenly focus on proper execution and be dedicated to our nearly 175-year-old commitments to a liberal education, diversity and public service.”