By Denise Dick
Youngstown State University President Randy Dunn will focus on three strategic directions — enrollment, engagement and excellence — during his term.
“We have to build enrollment,” Dunn told members of the Youngstown Rotary at their Wednesday meeting at the YMCA. “We have the capacity to be in the 15,000-plus range.”
Dunn, who began his term as YSU’s eighth president July 15, was the club’s featured speaker.
YSU has seen enrollment slip the past two years, a couple of years after near-record numbers. Fall 2012 enrollment slipped 5 percent to 13,813, compared with fall 2011’s 14,540.
The number of students enrolled also fell the previous year from 15,194 in fall 2010 to 14,540 in fall 2011. It must look at the range from which it draws students and implement social media in marketing.
Years ago, prospective college students would get brochures in the mail touting campus virtues, but today’s students aren’t interested in that.
“They want to get some information on their smartphone and have a texting relationship with the recruiter,” Dunn said.
The new initiatives to increase enrollment must be given time to gain traction, and if they don’t, then discussions will have to occur about rightsizing the university, he said.
As far as engagement, Dunn said the community and the region are tightly linked with YSU and vice versa.
“We need to look at what we can do to elevate that,” he said.
More also can be done to emphasize the excellence occurring on campus in research, faculty talent and stories of both traditional and nontraditional students.
“By doing that, we can raise our reputational profile,” Dunn said.
An Illinois native, Dunn came to YSU after nearly 10 years as president of Murray State University in Murray, Ky. Before that, he worked as state schools superintendent.