WILMINGTON — When it comes to revenues and the resources the school can offer, the vision of a rising Wilmington College has within it step-by-step increases in student recruitment and retention.
The vast majority of the college’s revenue comes directly from its student enrollment, said WC President Trevor M. Bates, so incremental increases in recruitment and also in retention of students would have an impact upon its rise.
On Friday, Dr. Bates will be formally inaugurated as the college’s 19th president at a Hermann Court ceremony. The News Journal recently sat down with Bates to mark the occasion, with many of the questions stemming from WC’s new five-year strategic plan which contains a RISE Vision.
By the end of the five years, the college would like to grow main campus enrollment to 1,250 students (undergraduate and graduate). Part of the growth strategy looks at targeting students in specific communities for whom the programs and the culture at Wilmington College would be attractive.
For example, central Pennsylvania is highly rural, with agriculture a major part of its economy. Nonetheless, there are not a significant number of small private liberal arts colleges that offer ag programs within a few hours of those students’ homes, said Bates. The same holds true, he said, in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.
Then there are the areas from which WC students have come and done really well at the college. Some of those places the college attracted maybe two or three students who then thrived here. With that in mind, Bates said the thing to do is try to increase that number to five or six students from that locale, or even 10.
And of course, the college wants to continue to draw really well from southwest Ohio, including Clinton County. Presently, there are 127 Wilmington College students from Clinton County on Main Campus, plus six at the Cincinnati Branch.
At this juncture, college officials have seen some “really good indicators” of reaching their enrollment goals for the coming fall, said Bates.
Student retention is also key to growing Main Campus enrollment. Retention occurs when students feel connected, he said, and when students are well-resourced in terms of their physical, emotional, academic, and spiritual needs.
Looking at the profiles of students who have been very successful at WC provides a great opportunity to take note of what the college can do well, and then spread it over the entire student body, said Bates.
In order to enhance the educational experience for everybody on campus, the college wants to see its current diversity further broadened by recruiting students from a wide range of backgrounds. That includes having ethnic and racial diversity among students and having students from foreign lands, as well as encompassing the daily presence of those who just have different life experiences and different points of view.
Wilmington College wants to prepare its students, he said, to be able to critically think and problem solve “and to work with other people who may not have the same perspective and the same ideas, but with the whole goal of making progress. That is the key. What we cannot do is stalemate.”
Bates added, “For a productive society, it is necessary that we speak and interact with those we disagree with and those who have different experiences, in order for communities to thrive and to be successful.”
To the News Journal readers, Bates said he invites you to come to campus and walk around a bit, to recognize that “the college is a part of this amazing community, and we want to find ways to partner together to help not only the college, but the city, the county and beyond to be successful.”
He continued, “We want the college to be accessible, and the benefits of the college to be benefits to the community.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.