What was your biggest accomplishment during the year?
The higher education marketplace has become very competitive, particularly for the highly motivated and highly talented students JCSU recruits. I was very excited that we enrolled 1,800 students in fall 2012. Our admissions counselors worked hard to make sure prospective students and parents understood how the University provides a transformative education with a global perspective that allows students to grow intellectually, physically, socially, culturally and spiritually. This generation of students is keen on sustainability and community engagement. Many of them choose JCSU because of our deep commitment to the Northwest Corridor, Sustainability Village and community service requirements, especially since servant leadership is important to them.
What was your biggest challenge?
As the dean of Enrollment Services, it was very difficult for me when we lost 120 students at the start of the spring 2013 semester. Even though the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Business and Finance worked diligently with all students to help them find options to pay their balances, some students were unable to secure the funds to validate. I realize that JCSU was no different from many other colleges and universities across the nation, particularly Historically Black Colleges and Universities, in feeling the effects of the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to change the rules in the approval process for families applying for the Parent PLUS loan. But it still didn’t make it any easier to watch those students put their academic careers on hold. We empathized with those students and their families. Staff in the financial aid and business offices continued working with students who could not validate, and several of them will re-enroll for the fall 2013 semester.
I am proud that the University did not shy away from the challenges caused by changes in the Parent PLUS loan, but instead, our leadership came together to problem-solve and find solutions. As a result, our Board of Trustees raised $100,000 for the President’s Gap Scholarship Fund this spring. I have already seen the positive impact of those funds as we have been able to help students with balances ranging from $100 to $2,000 validate for fall 2013.
What is your forecast for the 2013-2014 academic year?
I continue to be excited about our prospects for the upcoming academic year. Our efforts to attract a more diverse and international student body have proved to be successful. Students who want to pursue STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are showing increased interest in JCSU, because they have heard about our new state-of-the-art Science Center that will be built next year. The Enrollment Services Division will work hard during the summer to meet our enrollment goals, and in turn, start a new class of students on the path to realizing their dreams.