UW-Whitewater recorded a significant jump in applications after a decrease in enrollment for the past few years. During Tuesday’s Academic Affairs town hall, Interim Provost Greg Cook and members of the Academic Affairs leadership team shared uplifting news to those who joined.
The university, among other UW schools, saw a significant increase in applications. The Admissions Office recorded a 52 percent increase, receiving 8,128 applications, compared to last year’s 5,349 applicants. Already, 904 new freshmen and 106 transfer students are signed up for SOAR.
“We did turn the corner in terms of our applications and that usually leads to increased enrollments,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment and Retention Matt Aschenbrener.
Students are applying to more schools within the UW-System because of the no cost of application strategy, Aschenbrener said.
Other recruitment initiatives included expanding the admission office’s outreach to students earlier than normal. It grew its outreach toward Hispanic students, transfer students, and non-traditional students. It also increased the graduate programs, according to Admissions Director Jackie Briggs.
Daily campus tours also helped in the recruitment process. A total of 1,690 students have visited campus since July 2020 and 570 students had virtual tours. Increased mailing, emailing and phone calls were also worked into the recruitment strategic plan.
The university recently announced a commencement plan that was reiterated during the town hall. On Fri. May 14, students are invited to commencement and walk across the graduating stage. No guests are allowed, but the event will be recorded.
“This hybrid arrangement will help us to do the best we can to balance the desire of the students to celebrate this momentous occasion, by crossing the stage, but also balance that with safety needs,” said Cook.
The Kachel Fieldhouse and the Young Auditorium will host the commencement ceremonies and students will be separated by colleges. Speeches and other ceremonial traditions will be pre-recorded and a link will be sent out with the full ceremony video, Sat. May 15.
Each college was then given a chance to highlight what they have done or looked forward to in relation to academic affairs.
College of Education and Professional Studies:
Dean Robin Fox will be testifying before the Joint Finance Committee on Friday, April 9 where she will request funding for Winther Hall renovations. The college experienced a 14 percent enrollment increase from last spring. These are students enrolled in the teacher education program. Additionally, the college launched a new online master’s program last summer.
“Faculty and staff had to make all sorts of changes to the way that they teach and the way that they interact with the students and yet we’ve had the highest number of nominations for the teaching award and advising award than we’ve ever had,” said Fox.
College of Arts and Communication:
Associate Dean Robert Mertens focused on student success and their innovative productions. Theater dance produced five virtual productions, Dance Scapes was the very first dance for the camera concert at UWW, the music department put together over 45 concerts and recitals available to stream online, and with the help of ICIT, “parking lot choir” made it easier for the choir to rehearse. The college also established a new online communications master program which ended up ranking nationally.
College of letters and science:
The college Developed MS and cybersecurity online program and approved BA, BS degree in legal studies for fall 2021. Over half a dozen students received full tuition to law schools including Loyola, Marquette, Charleston School of Law, Minnesota Law, and Wisconsin Law. Multiple students are continuing their education in graduate school and secured well-paid internships all over the country.
“None of these things would happen without our great faculty,” said Dean Frank Goza.
Assistant Dean and Coordinator of General Education Elizabeth Hachten is retiring and recruitment for the position is underway.
College of Business and Economics:
Dean John Chenoweth focused on curriculum development. The newly established MS and cybersecurity collaboration, as Goza mentioned, and also added six graduate certificates. The college also added an emphasis in accounting in the MBA program as well as an emphasis in cybersecurity. The college has seen a 25 percent growth in its graduate programs. Many students in the college have won various awards with a new student winning every week.
College of Integrated Studies at Rock County:
Interim Dean Patricia Clasen touched on the relaunch of the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Degree this fall and enrollment for it began in the spring. The college is currently working on creating new certificates as well. They have also proposed a new summer bridge program in hopes to create a better transition into a four-year college down the road. They are also partnering with Blackhawk Technical College, making some of their courses available.
School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education:
Interim Associate Provost Joan Cook began thanking the deans for their new programs offered to graduate students.
“A couple of these programs are really innovative. You’re trying different structures. Moving to eight-week courses rather than 16, using stackable certificates,” said Cook. “We’re really trying to meet the needs in a lot of different ways.”
The continued education office also offers summer courses and they are on pace with enrollment, Cook said.
Cook is retiring on June 30 and her position will transition into Dean of Graduate Studies Continuing Education. A national search to fill the position is happening now and closes on April 15. They are also looking for a permanent Director of Academic Assessment. The internal search closes on April 12.
With the difficulties this academic semester has brought, the students, faculty, and staff still managed to outdo themselves. We continued to roll out awards, establish new programs, put together productions, and much more.