And away we go

The first week of Fall semester classes on a college campus – could anything be more exciting?

Well, here at The Woods, yes – how about that exciting first week when our incoming class of new students on campus is the largest new class in five years? How about one that is up 40 percent over the previous year’s enrollment of new students?

And it was more than just the numbers, as encouraging and impressive as they may be. It was the feel of our beloved campus these past few days. A number of long-time William Woods veterans remarked to me how much more energy there seemed to be with the additional students, how much more lively the Ivy Ceremony felt with so many more parents and family members cheering on their students from the banks of Senior Lake, even how much harder it was getting trying to find a parking space!

Nothing says “the future is bright!” for a small, private liberal arts institution like ours than seeing enrollment increase, and that is certainly saying something when you take a look across the national higher education landscape. The state of four-year institutions, as documented by Inside Higher Education, can best be described using the word “shrinking”:

So all of these numbers raise the question – how do some universities not only stay healthy, but thrive, in today’s challenging environment? The answer can be found right here at The Woods, not only by examining what we have done consistently for the past decades, but by considering what we did just this year!

Thus far this year we have introduced six new degrees programs: Each of these fields of study are entirely consistent with our mission of producing marketable graduates who are in-demand by a wide range of employers, and each is available online, illustrating how we remain adaptable to serve the growing needs of non-traditional students who are increasingly choosing to attend college. We have also further enhanced the student experience by hiring the first-ever Chief Student Experience Officer at WWU, and by adding two new intercollegiate sports options (Bowling and Outdoor Life Sports) for our prospective student-athletes. 

These are merely the latest examples of how we have always done it here at William Woods. To do more than just survive and truly thrive as an institution like ours, it takes innovation, boldness and thinking ahead. It is what we have done in our past, like adding online and graduate-level courses long before many institutions like us would even entertain the thought. Or in our present, offering unique, national-acclaimed degree programs like Equestrian Studies and American Sign Language, or others that set us apart like Cybersecurity and the Show-Me GOLD program.

The fact that our enrollment is increasing in this challenging era we find ourselves in today is simply no accident. We will always be looking for that next big idea, program, innovation or policy that makes William Woods University the best possible environment to receive a quality, unique, well-rounded college education.

Happy new semester!

Jeremy Moreland, Ph.D.
William Woods University