Enrollment decline could cost CMU $50 million in 6 years


Editor's note: This story was updated at 12:04 p.m. on Oct. 10.

A projected enrollment decline could cost Central Michigan University $50 million in overall revenue by 2020.

The overall enrollment rate increased 26.5 percent from 2013, but numbers introduced by President George Ross at the State of the University address Wednesday revealed that by 2020, enrollment could shrink to just 17,500 students, the lowest enrollment recorded by the Office of Institutional Research since fall 1999 when overall enrollment was 17,789.

“We can view this as frightening or threatening, but we also have another option,” Ross said. “We can view it as a call to action.”

In 2020, CMU will be competing for an unusually small group of Michigan high school seniors estimated to be 90,100. CMU historically enrolls 3.2 percent of all Michigan high school graduates, making the recruitment of theses students more important than ever. About 95 percent of CMU's student body are Michigan natives.

Ross emphasized his belief that the goal for CMU’s enrollment in the future is to improve to 30,000 students overall. This number would account for both on-site and global students.

“We are capable of more,” he said. “We are capable of maintaining a 20,000 on-campus student enrollment."

This call to action encourages university leaders and staff to boost enrollment numbers by focusing on helping to continue to promote CMU's online enrollment.

With 50 different satellite locations across the nation, Global Campus currently educates about 7,500 students. 

Ross said he wants to increase number to at least 10,000 students.

"I’d be foolish to talk about enrollment without also discussing Global Campus,” he said. “Global Campus sets us apart from our peers.”

As the leading university in online enrollment, CMU's Global Campus is ranked first in several programs. Ross said CMU is missing a “golden opportunity" by failing to pay attention to what Global Campus could offer to the university, 

“Our Global Campus is ranked No. 1 in America for its online undergraduate programs and for its online programs for veterans,” Ross said. “More than 15,000 students a year — from here on campus, across the state, nation and world — take CMU online and hybrid classes.”

Building the new Biosciences facility, creating active learning classrooms, and showcasing the expertise of dedicated faculty and staff are examples, Ross said, of promoting the brand that has served CMU for 122 years.

Shaun Holtgreive, executive director of Campus Life said he considers 30,000 students attainable, but steps toward President Ross’ goal largely involves diversifying campus enrollment.

“(Enrollment focus) can’t just be on Michigan students and it can’t just be campus oriented,” Holtgreive said. “It has to be out-of-state and international (students) as well.”

Peter Ross, vice president of Global Campus, said he believes growing Global Campus enrollment is an “integral part,” of CMU's future success.

“The most important thing (for enrollment) is increasing access to CMU programs,” he said. “Not just face-to-face, but online as well.”

Ross concluded his address by honoring students and faculty that embody the “true Chippewa.”

“No matter what college or service unit we’re in, going out of our way to support students is what faculty and staff at Central Michigan University do," he said. "It’s simply who we are."


About Jordyn Hermani

Troy senior Jordyn Hermani, Editor-in-Chief of Central Michigan Life, is a double major ...

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