EOU records impressive enrollment gains
Some very good news is coming out of Eastern Oregon University. Enrollment is up dramatically. Impressively, in fact.
Eastern has 3,957 students this fall, its most ever. The number eclipses the previous record, set last year, by nearly 300. And most significantly, freshman enrollment grew 34 percent.
Some of the growth may be attributable to the economy. A lot of people decide to go to school when jobs are tight. In fact, all of the universities in the Oregon University System saw jumps in enrollment. But for EOU, it’s more than just a sour economy. The university is doing a lot of things right, from recruiting to making a concerted effort to retain students — two areas that may have gone lacking for a few years. The number of on-campus students, who constitute a little less than half of EOU’s total enrollment, climbed 13.6 percent. And student retention is up a dramatic 21 points to 72 percent.
EOU President Bob Davies attributed the success to a team effort. “Everyone from the professors to the custodial staff helped,’’ he said. “We all had a role to play and we did.’’
Davies is right, of course. Compiling those kinds of numbers takes more than just one or two people committed to a cause. It takes a buy-in and efforts from everyone. But it also takes an impetus. That was the commitment made two years ago to turn around the slide EOU was in the midst of. A strategy was forged to enhance retention efforts. Also, the admissions team was infused with enthusiasm, a strategy for recruiting that made sense for a small, rural university and an interim director who knew how to lead a team on a cause. EOU had suffered through a few years where it seemed its admissions department had no focus. But Interim Director Mike Dannells and Assistant Director Tyler Dubsky and their team of admissions counselors have done a tremendous job on behalf of the university. So good, in fact, EOU should waste no time in removing the “interim’’ from Dannells’ title. No sense going to the expense of a national search when, for the first time in several years, it has a winning team in place.
In two years EOU has undergone a remarkable turnaround. That’s good for the students who attend, for the staff who works there, for the university’s future and for the community.
Keep up the good work, Eastern. You’re doing things right.