As we enter the second week of the fall 2016 semester, indications are that enrollment will be up again – for the fourth year in a row. By census date next week it appears that total enrollment will top 4,500 students, with growth coming in all three areas of our program: traditional undergraduate, non-traditional undergraduate, and graduate education.
We praise and thank our gracious God for this strong growth in enrollment. We count it a privilege that so many students are choosing to further their education at Concordia University St. Paul. Students, you honor us with our presence and we promise to do the best we can to prepare you for thoughtful and informed living, dedicated service to him and humanity and the enlightened care of his creation all within the context of the Christian Gospel.
During the last four years, CSP enrollment is up nearly 60%, an astonishing number. When asked the reasons for this growth, I usually point to three: 1) our capacity to bring quality new academic programs to the marketplace, 2) a competitive pricing strategy that makes private education affordable when compared to public options and other privates, and 3) constructive relationships with some excellent marketing partners.
I am also pleased that we are on a course of sustainable growth. Sustainable growth is a concept I learned many years ago. In short a company, a school, a church, or any organization can grow too fast and lose the capacity to effectively fulfill its mission. We are seeing evidence that our growth is sustainable first in the fact that rates of retention and persistence to graduation are up. We have set aggressive objectives for persistence, and are seeing positive results. Second, net assets are up as well. We had another good year financially in 2015-16, on the heels of four previous good financial years. This performance makes it possible for us to invest in three main areas: financial aid for students, wage and salary increases for staff and faculty, and improvements and maintenance to our facilities. All of this strengthens our capacity “to prepare students.”
Most importantly, however, I believe that the fundamental reason for our growth is a faculty and staff who are immensely dedicated to student success. As President, I am extremely grateful to God for the widespread commitment to student success which exists on our campus. A tip of the cap to all of you!
Grace and peace.