Tennessee Wesleyan achieves record enrollment

Posted on: August 31, 2012

On campus, online and on time, 1,116 Tennessee Wesleyan students have shown up this fall semester to help the 155 year-old private liberal arts college reach a record enrollment number.

On campus, online and on time, 1,116 Tennessee Wesleyan students have shown up this fall semester to help the 155 year-old private liberal arts college reach a record enrollment number.

“It’s exciting that in what many perceive to be a down economy, we can set a new record enrollment,” said Stan Harrison, TWC vice president of enrollment services.

Much of the college’s recent enrollment growth can be attributed to the addition of new programs implemented and promoted throughout the summer leading up to the fall 2012 semester.

“Essentially what we would consider to be our traditional programs, our Athens day full-time students, remain rather constant,” said Harrison, who has watched Tennessee Wesleyan thrive during the 30 years he’s been employed at the institution.

“The primary growth this semester was seen in our Management Excellence (ME) program with our evening students and the starting of the new online RN to BSN as well as the college’s first graduate program, a Master of Science in Curriculum Leadership. All of those students, along with the college’s part-time students, are what are ultimately responsible for reaching that record number in enrollment.”

As Tennessee Wesleyan continues to grow, TWC President Harley Knowles anticipates a strong future for the institution, its employees and its students.

“We’ve set ambitious goals for the future,” said Dr. Knowles, who is starting his second year at the college. “We have a variety of new programs in the pipeline and are working diligently every day to better Tennessee Wesleyan for students today, while also making plans to strengthen the college in the future for students who will be setting foot on our campus in the years to come.”

The college’s first graduate degree and comprehensive online program were recently approved and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, leaving a small window of time for the school to promote and recruit for the new programs prior to program start dates.

“I’m amazed at how dedicated the TWC faculty and staff were in getting the word out about these new programs within such a short time,” said Knowles. “The online RN to BSN and the Master’s in Curriculum Leadership seemed to immediately elicit an excitement from nurses and educators within the surrounding communities. Part of our challenge as a comprehensive college has been modifying our undergraduate offerings to meet the needs of the modern student while also branching out to offer new graduate and online programs.”

Several new TWC undergraduate and graduate programs are currently awaiting SACS approval.

“We have numerous new undergraduate programs on the horizon such as an emphasis in forensics, legal studies and a fine arts major,” said Suzanne Hine, vice president of academic affairs. “Additionally there are other graduate programs, such as an MBA and a master's degree in criminal justice administration on the drawing board as well.”

Expanding the college’s ME evening program is also a priority for the college.

“Currently, we are exploring the feasibility of offering the accelerated ME program, designed for working adults, in perhaps the Cleveland area to better serve our region,” said Hine.

An expansion in academic curriculum coupled with record enrollment numbers set the bar high for future expansion in other areas on campus.

“As we anticipate the growth of the college we are making plans to expand our housing options as well as other campus facilities,” said Scott Mashburn, TWC vice president of student life. “Currently we have 335 students on campus in the residence halls which puts us at approximately 81 percent of capacity. That’s the second all-time enrollment number in the last 10 years. The highest number before this semester was 339 student-residents in the fall of 2009.

“The college is looking at achieving a goal of 2,000 students in the next 10 years with 700 to 800 of those students being on-campus residents. We’ve already looked at plans for new residence halls to accommodate those new students, planning what those structures will look like and what amenities they will feature.”

With key strategic initiatives identified under the leadership of Dr. Knowles and the Board of Trustees, Tennessee Wesleyan is moving forward with plans for improvements and additions to both facilities and academic offerings. This semester’s record enrollment number follows a year in which the college was strong financially and neared an all-time high in fundraising.

“After all of Tennessee Wesleyan’s recent accomplishments, having a record enrollment number this semester can be attributed to the college as a whole," said Mashburn. "You don’t get to a record headcount with just a small admissions staff, it’s all the staff in all of the departments on campus that promote the college and work behind the scenes in order to make that happen.”

As Tennessee Wesleyan looks toward the future, Dr. Knowles hopes the college will continue to make its students the priority, inspiring and preparing them to become servant leaders in their community and the world.

“Students and their families are seeing this college as a good value during these tough economic times,” said Dr. Knowles. “We’re using the latest technology to serve new and diverse students. It is critical that we continue evolving as a leader in higher education. We want to continue to be worth the investment our students make when they choose TWC to be their higher education experience.”