Many of the chief priorities outlined by the Strategic Planning Commission dealt with improving the number, quality and diversity of FDU students. An enrollment management approach was initiated, focusing not only on the recruitment of new students, but on the retention, graduation and satisfaction of current students. This approach has succeeded in a number of significant ways.
For five consecutive years, there has been steady progress in upgrading the quality of the entering class. Admission standards were increased both for regularly admitted students and Presidential Scholars, and the application process was revamped. In 1991, FDU accepted 90 percent of the students who applied to all University programs including Edward Williams College. That number dropped to 74.9 percent in 1994 and is now at 65.3 percent for admittance to the four-year program. In the last five years, there has been a 100-point increase in Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) scores for first-time, full-time freshmen, and this year's entering class averaged 1050. In addition, FDU has seen the number of students applying for admission rise. In 1995 alone, the number of applications to the four-year program went up by 17 percent. In addition to increased applications, the yield of four-year admitted students to four-year enrolled students rose from 24.9 percent in 1991 to 32.1 percent in 1996.
"The increased admission standards have restored faith in the integrity and quality of the institution," said Dale Herold, dean of enrollment management. "At the same time, the addition of new recruitment initiatives are providing a strong level of enrollment. In fact, this year's incoming four-year freshman class is up more than 33 percent from last year (674 four-year freshmen) and is the largest class in more than five years."
Contributing to a solid enrollment base is the improvement in retention. Statistics show that the percentage of freshmen returning for their sophomore year (77 percent) exceeds the national average (70 percent) for comparable institutions. An important element in the improved retention rate is the recently revised Freshman Seminar course that provides entering students an innovative learning experience to help them effectively adjust to University life.
Also contributing to FDU's enrollment has been the expansion of recruitment initiatives beyond the New Jersey/New York area and extending throughout the globe. With the help of a number of agreements with schools from overseas, this past year has seen a 25 percent rise in the number of incoming international students and a greater-than 50 percent increase in the overall amount of international students since 1990. In 1996-97, there are 709 international students from 63 countries studying at the University.There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
FDU also has sought to increase the number of its minority students. Activities initiated to further this effort included the addition of a position responsible for recruiting minority students; on-campus programs for minorities and high schools with large numbers of minority students; the creation of the FDU/Urban League Scholarship; the establishment of the Higher Education Partnership (HEP), a bond between FDU and the secondary schools in the Dioceses of Paterson, Newark, Metuchen, Trenton and Camden; and the hiring and promoting of qualified minority staff. In addition, the Office of Multicultural Affairs helps create policies and programs that attract and retain minority students.
Reaching out to adult and part-time learners has been another strong thrust undertaken by the University. An enhanced and redefined Office of Continuing Education has been integral to these efforts. In addition, marketing efforts, improved registration services and new academic and professional programs, both for credit and not for credit, have significantly boosted the number of adult and part-time students. Programs such as the bachelor of arts in general studies are emphasized and are increasingly becoming invaluable to this growing population of adult learners.
Admission strategies have reflected the developing of distinct campus identities and University goals. Herold reported, "We're continuing to limit the number of students entering Edward Williams College (224 in 1996, down from 278 in 1995) in response to the changing educational market and to achieve a better balance between four-year and two-year students on the Teaneck-Hackensack Campus." On the graduate level, efforts have been made to promote several new academic initiatives including a new MBA in global management and the MA in addictions counseling.
And, enrollment services, including records, registration and the bursar's office, have been improved to provide added conveniences for students. One notable development was the implementation of a new administrative computer system using Datatel software that allows for more efficient access to and exchange of information. Also, the financial-aid policies were redesigned to assure that the program supports and reinforces the University's admission and enrollment goals. "We're trying to create better services in all areas of enrollment management," Herold said.
For the future, Herold is looking to enhance partnerships with the faculty to improve the enrollment management process. "This fall, we established an admissions committee to develop new initiatives involving the faculty and administration in FDU's enrollment planning, marketing, research and retention efforts."