Central Michigan University President George E. Ross said now is CMU’s “time of opportunity” as he challenged the campus community to achieve a total enrollment of 30,000 students during his 2014 State of the University address Wednesday.
“Maintaining 20,000 students on campus is the first challenge we face together,” Ross said. “Reaching 10,000 students through Global Campus is the second. These are our challenges. And reaching 30,000 students is our opportunity.”
Ross said shrinking numbers of college-age students in Michigan threatens to lower the university’s on-campus enrollment to 17,500 by 2020. That would represent a loss of about $50 million in annual revenue.
However, by rallying together as it did the past year, the campus community can hit the 30,000 target, he said.
Ross credited the efforts of all CMU employees, students and alumni in turning around three years of enrollment declines, with a nearly 27 percent increase in this year’s fall freshman class. CMU also saw increases in international students and on-campus graduate students.
“As we celebrate this success, we also need to be inspired by it,” Ross said. “We must wage a ‘forever campaign’ to recruit students … and to retain students once they’re here. We must be innovative in the education we deliver.
“Faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and trustees of CMU, make no mistake: we are part of an incredible university,” Ross said. “Make no mistake: When we continue our collective and concerted efforts, we will keep our on-campus enrollment at 20,000.”
Ross noted the growth opportunity of CMU’s Global Campus, with a No. 1 ranking for undergraduate online programs from U.S. News and World Report and its pioneering efforts in delivering degrees at remote locations.
“Today, CMU’s Global Campus enrollment is nearly 7,500. And I have to say: We are missing a golden opportunity if we don’t take a serious look at how we grow our Global Campus enrollment to at least 10,000,” Ross said.
Ross cited a $95 million Biosciences Building, classroom renovations with the latest technology, and an expanding College of Medicine presence in Saginaw as reasons to celebrate.
Yet, he credited the university’s 2,600 faculty and staff for building indelible connections with students and inspiring their success.
“We have stayed true to who we are for 122 years,” Ross said. “Our brand — the CMU brand — happens when we deliver academic excellence with hands-on, personalized learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom. It happens when we put a spotlight on CMU’s unmistakable maroon and gold and when we deliver that great sense of community as we nurture student and alumni success.
“CMU is a university that students choose because it prepares them for leadership and success in their careers, in their lives and in their communities.”
The text of President Ross’ State of the University address and a video are available here.