This July, four Newman University faculty and staff members had the opportunity to present at the Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL) Conference in Washington, D.C. — dubbed the most comprehensive conference covering key issues in higher education enrollment today.
Those faculty were Jill Fort, associate vice president of academic affairs; Angie McCoy, director of the Master of Business Administration program; Teresa Wilkerson, assistant dean of the School of Business; and staff member Kate Bussell, coordinator of early intervention, testing and tutoring services.
Their presentation, titled “Bridging Success in Recruitment, Retention and Graduation,” highlighted recruiting, retention and student success efforts that have been successful at Newman.
Wilkerson hopes that those who attended their presentation walked away recognizing two things. First, schools need to begin planning for the Freshman Cliff of 2025 — a term for the anticipated dramatic drop in the traditional, college-aged population.
Second, she hopes that attendees understood how important integrative style degree programs can be to recruitment and retention, and act as a pathway to graduate study at their schools, as well as how easy it is to overlook what she calls a “hidden gem of a degree program.”
Sharing benefits of Newman’s interdisciplinary studies degree
Wilkerson specifically concentrated on how an integrated degree program such as Newman’s bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies was originally used to help students with some college, no degree (SCND) attain their degree.
“However,” Wilkerson explained, “what has been identified is that this degree program acts as a very important retention tool for traditional students. I have been directing this program for many years and have developed three categories for traditional students that move into this program: Dismissed. Confused. Autonomous.”
With all three areas, along with working with the SCND student, Wilkerson encourages a capstone graduate degree and has discovered that the interdisciplinary studies degree program is a strong pathway into Newman’s MBA program. Just this past spring, she shared, seven interdisciplinary studies students graduated, five of whom will begin in the MBA program this fall.
“This is just one example of how Newman is reaching out to students to not just build retention and act as a pathway to graduate programs, but also more importantly, we are truly fulfilling the mission of Newman by transforming, providing a foundation and helping to launch them into a career field that will highlight their strengths and allow them to move forward and make an impact on the world,” Wilkerson said.
Overall, Wilkerson’s biggest takeaway from the conference was how proud she is of the academic programs, support and personalized attention offered to students at Newman compared to other schools.
“But my biggest aha moment,” she said, “was realizing that we truly are advanced in our scope of understanding future academic trends and strategic planning. That was a surprise for me and gave me a huge sense of pride coming back from our trip that we need to continue doing what we are doing and expanding in the direction we are headed.”
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Whether you’re pursuing a lifelong dream or looking to customize your college experience with an interdisciplinary degree, Newman University pledges to educate the whole person, empowering them to transform society.