The consulting firm that will develop the plan has worked for more than 600 universities and colleges.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- While Youngstown State University leaders are celebrating a second consecutive year of increased enrollment, they aren't resting on their laurels.
YSU is paying an Iowa consulting firm $133,881 to come up with a plan to keep the number of students on the rise.
"We're very anxious for them to get here on campus and get to work," said Dr. Cyndy Anderson, vice president for financial affairs.
Consultants with Stamats Communications Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will spend the next six months talking to hundreds of YSU faculty, staff, high school guidance counselors, alumni and current and prospective students.
The firm will examine services ranging from academic advising and campus housing to student retention and university marketing and develop recommendations on how YSU can continue its recent run of recruitment success, Anderson said.
"We don't intend this to just be another consultant report," Anderson told YSU trustees.
"This, of course, is all part of reinforcing our No. 1 priority, which is enrollment," President David Sweet said.
Trustees and staff burst into applause Thursday morning when Bill Countryman, interim executive director of enrollment management, reported that enrollment is up by 415 students or 3.4 percent for the fall semester, from 12,243 to 12,658.
It is the second consecutive fall enrollment increase at YSU and only the third since 1990.
Sweet, who made increasing enrollment his top goal when he came to YSU two years ago, said it is the first time since 1988 and 1989 that enrollment has gone up two consecutive years.
The university is hoping Stamats can help the numbers go even higher. A report generated by YSU sets an enrollment goal of 14,500 students by fall 2004.
Stamats has developed enrollment and marketing plans for more than 600 universities and colleges across North America, including Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland and Wright State University in Dayton.
The trustees' academic affairs committee approved a new bachelor's degree in forensic science that university leaders said is another example of how YSU is trying to stay ahead of enrollment trends.
The new degree, which still must be approved by the Ohio Board of Regents, will be the only one of its kind in Ohio and among only 22 in the world, said Dr. John Yemma, dean of health and human services at YSU.
"We have a vast market," Yemma said. "We already have many, many interested students."
Yemma said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations reports a growing need for forensic scientists, and he said the demand will increase even more with continued terrorist threats. "It's very timely," Yemma said.