Recent successes and challenges were at the forefront of the Spring 2021 Welcome Back meeting, presented on Jan. 15.

Dr. Dean Van Galen highlighted December’s successful walk-through commencement ceremonies, the recent launch of the Global Leaders scholarship program, and the intent to secure funding for repairs to Taylor Performing Arts Center a priority during the legislative session.

“And in the fall, we learned that first- and second-year retention rates for first-time, full-time freshman was 67 percent,” he said. “That’s the highest retention rate since 2007 … a significant step forward and a credit to everyone on our campus.”

Van Galen also spoke frankly about the challenges, such as a decline in fall enrollment over the last several years and state funding issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But even though we have so much in front of us, don’t forget about the future and the need to plan and envision where we want to be in three years or five years,” he said. “That future is being shaped every day.”

The meeting included campus updates from Dr. Julie Wengert, interim vice president of student affairs/dean of student success; Rob Yust, vice president of business affairs; Dr. Paula Carson, provost/vice president of academic affairs; Heather Lesmeister, director of University Relations & Marketing; and Dr. Nicholas Nicoletti, who previewed new Empowering U training materials and initiatives.

For those who were unable to attend one of the two morning sessions, you can view a recording below.