APSU President Alisa White unveiled her plans to increase enrollment to 15,000 by 2017 and her ideas on how to utilize the Jenkins & Wynne lot during the annual convocation address on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
The faculty and staff convocation ceremony was held in the Mabry Concert Hall in the Music Mass Communications building, and featured speeches from White and new Vice President of Advancement, Communication and Strategic Initiatives Derek van der Merwe.
White discussed how APSU will sell the 103 Strawberry Alley property to concentrate more on the Jenkins & Wynne purchase from earlier this year, which is set to close in November. White said her plans are to work with architects to create “pretty parking.” This purchase will contribute to APSU’s expansion down College Street.
White’s plans for increasing enrollment consisted of three key points: expanding the recruitment base, enlarging course development options and increasing student retention.
While discussing expanding the recruitment base, White stressed the fact that 0.5 percent of APSU’s population is international. White said she plans to increase the outreach to many global sectors and more graduate-level students. White said she also desires to increase the number of in- and out-of-state undergraduate students.
“The university should have a good mix of students to interact with and learn from each other,” White said.
Finances are another barrier to enlarging the enrollment numbers, according to White.
“As we increase our enrollment, those costs can be divided among the students,” said White. “So the burden on each becomes a little bit less.”
White explained the importance of increasing enrollment numbers after the state’s contribution to APSU dwindled by several million dollars. Her proposed increase in students will elevate the amount of money APSU will gain in the form of student activity fees each student must pay.
Another goal White has is to expand course delivery options. Adopting Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative will help students struggling to complete their degrees receive credentials by 2025.
“You have to think about the students who would like to finish, but life got in the way,” White said.
White said would like to change this trend by offering alternative class options to accommodate students who cannot maintain a normal class schedule.
Her last idea is to focus on student retention.
“Once they are here, it’s really important they progress until they earn a degree,” White said.
White’s speech touched on the reasons students do not complete a degree.
“Many students [who] do not finish school fault about $2,000 in student loans, whereas a student who completes a degree most likely did not fault,” White said. “Help me, help them get on through.”
Freshman convocation will be held in the Dunn Center on Friday, Aug. 21.