New Programs, Collaborations Drive VCSU Enrollment Growth

Sep 23rd, 2008 @ 10:40 am | Author:
Final fall enrollment figures at Valley City State University (VCSU) showed small increases in headcount and full-time equivalent enrollment amid continued rapid changes in the nature of the student population. Total headcount increased 3.8% from 982 in 2007 to 1,019. Full-time Equivalent (FTE) enrollment increased 2% from 807 in 2007 to 823. Undergraduate headcount of 900 was a slight increase from 2007, while graduate headcount of 119 and FTE of 51 were substantial increases over 2007.

VCSU President Dr. Steve Shirley said this year's growth came from new academic programs and collaborative agreements with other institutions. "The faculty and staff have been working hard to identify unmet needs in higher education and find innovative ways to fill them. We are pleased that these efforts have resulted in increased enrollment in a competitive environment."

VCSU's online Master of Education program continued its growth, with headcount increasing 43% over last year. According to Shirley, growing in-state enrollment stems from the significant need for this type of program while growth in out-state enrollment shows its reputation is growing. The program was first offered in 2005 and is designed to meet the needs of working teachers.

VCSU's recent collaborative efforts have resulted in two agreements that directly affected 2008 enrollment. Under one agreement, VCSU is using distance delivery to offer courses in its Elementary Education major to students who have completed an Associate's degree from Northwest College in Powell, WY. The agreement allows these students to complete VCSU's Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and become licensed to teach without leaving Wyoming or traveling to the VCSU campus. Under another agreement, VCSU, Minot State University – Bottineau and healthcare providers in Valley City are working together under the Dakota Nursing Program so that students in Valley City can earn a practical nurse certificate or a registered nurse (RN) degree. Shirley said both programs provide new options for students who had been facing unmet educational needs.

Undergraduate programs in Health Science and Fisheries & Wildlife Science have also shown substantial growth, but are beginning to test the capacity of VCSU's science facilities. "Demand for workers in several areas of science is very high and is sure to continue increasing over the long term," said Shirley. "VCSU has exceptional programs that can help meet these needs, but updated and expanded facilities are vital for us to continue our growth." An $11.2 million capital project to renovate and expand VCSU's Rhoades Science Center has been included in the State Board of Higher Education's biennial budget request that has been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget.

Partially offsetting growth was a decrease in the number of incoming freshmen for the first time in seven years. Shirley said, "The number of incoming freshmen is important because it has a direct impact on both current and future enrollment. We are committed to turning this around in coming years." Shirley was pleased with VCSU's retention of first year students which increased to 68%, the highest figure since 2002.

Valley City State University (VCSU) prepares people for life through visionary leadership and exemplary practices in teaching, learning and service. VCSU is nationally acclaimed for attracting and retaining talented individuals who advance quality learning opportunities and economic growth through technology and innovation.