The college’s current enrollment picture is strong. This fall we enrolled 1,402 freshmen, the largest first-year class since the college began keeping records. Our overall student body, including graduate students, now numbers 6,381, a five percent increase over last year. This growth was partly planned and partly unexpected, although welcome.
The college community’s response, from expanding orientation to meeting housing challenges and finding seats in classes for so many new students, has been fantastic. However, we don’t expect to enroll this many first-year students in future years, as the number of high school graduates in New York state continues to decline. Moreover, sustained freshmen growth on our campus would present severe space issues in classes and residence halls.
Beginning next fall, we expect the overall student population to increase only about one percent per year through 2022. This modest overall growth will not be based on larger first-year classes but on larger numbers of returning upper-level students and slight growth in the number of graduate students. This bears a bit of explanation.
Recently, it has been difficult to predict how many upper-level students will return each fall. For the past three years, we have seen an unprecedented decrease in the number of upper-level students returning, not because they are dropping out or transferring to other colleges but because they are graduating more quickly than their predecessors. Earlier graduation is a positive development, consistent with our strategic plan of decreasing time to completion and making a college education more affordable, but it does require some juggling of the proportions of other types of students to maintain our optimal enrollment of approximately 6,000.
An offsetting trend is recent growth in graduate studies. The number of continuing graduate students jumped from 145 last fall to 271 this fall and total graduate enrollment rose from 308 to 388. This is more than twice the enrollment we had in graduate programs just five years ago. We will continue to pursue opportunities to build up graduate programs, especially in areas of high need.
It is important to note that the increase in the size of this first-year class did not significantly change the academic profile of our new students. In addition, I am happy to report that our first-year class includes an increase from less than 20 percent to a new high of 28 percent of students from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups. I am particularly proud of this trend. Not only is SUNY Oneonta a richer institution because of it, but diversity makes the college more attractive as prospective students increasingly value a broader and broader range of experiences.
I want to thank everyone who contributes to the admissions, enrollment and completion agenda of our campus. It takes great teamwork to attract new students and ensure that they receive a high-quality education and great opportunities for personal fulfillment during their college years.
Rebecca Harrington Helps Develop Popular Violence Prevention Course
Health Educator Rebecca Harrington’s reputation as an expert in responding to and preventing sexual assault continues to grow. This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that over 140 colleges have downloaded SPARC—Sexual and interpersonal violence Prevention and Response Course— a free, web-based resource offered by SUNY and created by a team including Rebecca.
SUNY, the City University of New York and the New York State Department of Health collaborated on SPARC, which aims to instruct students in the prevention of sexual, interpersonal and related violence. It combines the training requirements of Title IX, the Clery Act and New York’s “Enough Is Enough” law into an online module.
According to the United States Department of Justice, one out of every four female undergraduates will be the victim of some form of sexual assault before graduation. This astonishing statistic is unacceptable.
SUNY has established itself as a leader in the fight against sexual violence. The university system embraced “Enough Is Enough,” enacted in 2015 to establish requirements that all colleges statewide adopt comprehensive procedures and guidelines for addressing sexual assault and related crimes. SPARC builds upon this by delivering an educational component that colleges and universities nationwide can customize and make the cornerstone of their own campaigns.
It is gratifying to share that SUNY Oneonta, through Rebecca’s leadership, is playing a role at the national level in combating sexual violence. Her work will make students’ learning environments safer on campuses across the country.
Colleges of Distinction 2017-2018
Once again, SUNY Oneonta is among 372 colleges and universities profiled in the Colleges of Distinction 2017-2018 Guidebook, released Tuesday. This is the third year in a row that we have been recognized by the higher education guide for our academic excellence, focus on undergraduate teaching, innovative learning experiences, opportunities for personal development, and career and graduate school preparation. In addition, this year, we have been further recognized with "Field of Study" badges for our business and education programs.
Read more about this recognition