Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

'OUR BEST DAYS ARE AHEAD' ; WVSU President: School's Future Is Bright, despite Cuts

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

'OUR BEST DAYS ARE AHEAD' ; WVSU President: School's Future Is Bright, despite Cuts

Article excerpt

Even though West Virginia State University has faced a 16.4 percent cut in its state funding over the past four years, WVSU President Anthony Jenkins painted a bright future for the school in his first State of the University address. Jenkins pointed to the school's increased enrollment and contributions from alumni as evidence of an engaged and growing community.

"I am confident that our best days are ahead, he said. "I believe this because, over the past few months, I have seen the hopeful faces of new students entering State with dreams of a better life, and I have seen alumni who achieved the American dream.

Building on the work of his predecessor, Brian Hemphill, Jenkins said the school can finally shed its motto of being the "best-kept secret and adopt the identity of a "well-known secret in the greater Kanawha Valley.

Jenkins laid out a five-point plan that he hopes will increase the school's recognition. He wants to continue enrolling students with high academic success, pay attention to students' holistic experience on campus, increase students' interaction with faculty and extra-curricular activities, attract high-quality instructors and further the school's research efforts.

At a recent meeting of the school's governing board, officials announced an 8.2 percent increase in the school's headcount enrollment, which came, in part, from a surge of more applications from first-time students.

To make sure the university's enrollment numbers continue to climb, Jenkins has charged the school's Student and Academic Affairs offices with creating a comprehensive enrollment management and retention plan.

"The reason I say it's comprehensive, is because it has to touch every corner of the university, Jenkins said after his speech. "It has to touch everything from student affairs to financial aid to marketing - all of those elements have to be succinct and coordinated.

Once the students are on campus, Jenkins said, he wants the school to do a better job of immediately engaging them, to raise the school's retention of them from one year to the next. …

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