OWU board sets sights on 25% enrollment growth


Ohio Wesleyan University’s board of trustees has passed a resolution to support the goal of enrolling 2,020 students by 2020.

This goal, according to a report from the recent board retreat shared by President Rock Jones with employees, calls for a 25 percent growth in total student body over the next five years. Ten faculty members were also present with trustees for discussion when they visited last week.

On Feb. 11, Wesleyan Council of Student Affairs (WCSA) invited the board to dinner to discuss a myriad of issues and celebrate their love for the school.

Topics, such as the importance of socioeconomic and racial diversity among students and enhancing school spirit, were discussed. Also at issue were the appropriate role of academic advisers and campus accessibility for students with different abilities.

In his opening statement, board chairman Thomas Tritton said: “We [the board members] love coming back to campus because it allows us to reminisce. We love sharing good memories, and of course blocking out the bad ones.”

Addressing the students present, Tritton said: “You all are going to be us someday. I hope that doesn’t scare you too much. It should inspire you instead.”

Junior Jess Choate, president of WCSA, said she wanted those in attendance at the dinner to focus on “looking to the past in order to better the present.”

WCSA, she said, is aiming to reintroduce old traditions.

The idea of rethinking OWU’s plentiful travel opportunities was also touched upon. Laurie Anderson, professor of botany-microbiology, suggested offering a competitive scholarship so more students can go on travel-learning courses.

Will Kopp, chief communications officer, suggested the idea of an “angel fund,” or emergency scholarship, to help students who are struggling to pay tuition. “It’s just a shame,” he said.

Emma Drongowski, former WCSA vice president, who was in attendance and remembered planning the event last year, said: “It’s very stressful. I mean people on the board of trustees are very important people and they have a limited amount of time on campus so, as a student, we know how valuable that time is.”

“At my table we talked about varying abilities of students coming in, specifically academic-level abilities and how to best support them,” said Drongowski. “I think all the issues talked about today (at the dinner) were important but the overall question on most people’s minds was retention, just because that is indicative of a lot of other things on campus.”

Gregory Moore, class of 1976, said: “I love the big 2020 plan. We want to get more student to come and stay. The trustees are really starting to echo with what students have been saying. We are starting to listen more.”

During the retreat, the board reviewed results of a “student satisfaction inventory” and engaged, along with faculty, in conversations with students about ways to enhance the student experience and increase student satisfaction and success, according to the retreat report. The student satisfaction survey was done in October 2015.

At various small group sessions throughout the retreat last week, topics such as maintenance of residence halls and importance of mental health issues (specifically, the number of counselors available) were discussed, according to the retreat report.

In his email, Jones said: “This is an exciting time at the university as we set out on this new, critical pathway. We must embrace appropriate change while remaining true to our historic mission, be willing to take urgent action, keenly focus on proper execution, and be dedicated to our nearly 175-year-old commitments to a liberal education, diversity and public service.”

By Areena Arora

and Olivia Lease

Areena Arora is managing editor of The Transcript, the Ohio Weslyan University student newspaper. Olivia Lease is The Transcript’s online editor.

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