ETSU President Brian Noland tackled a variety of topics, including the drop in freshmen enrollment, in his 2015 State of the University Address.
In his annual speech, Noland also discussed the university’s budget, how the university can continue to present itself to the public and the refinement of the university’s strategic plans such as renovations to buildings on campus and the construction of the football stadium.
“We must remain vigilant in telling the story of East Tennessee State University because the game has fundamentally changed,” Noland said.
Noland said that partnering with Royall and Company, an enrollment management organization, has given the university the chance to market to students more efficiently.
This year’s freshmen class was only 56 students fewer than the year before.
“We have been aggressively marketing our institution this year,” Noland said. “Last year, we focused on high school seniors, but this year we are focusing on sophomores, juniors and seniors.”
Noland said ETSU lost in-state students due to Tennessee Promise, a statewide initiative that began this semester offering all incoming students at community colleges a tuition-free education, but the university grew in the number of out-of-state and international student.
“Looking at our numbers compared to every other TBR school in the system, you can see what we have accomplished,” Noland said. “Not only did we sustain our enrollment, but we grew the academic profile of the freshmen class.”
In review of other schools’ tuition prices in 2013, 51 percent of graduating from ETSU were in debt, which is lower than the state average at 57 percent.
Noland also touched on the topic of morale with students and faculty relationships on campus.
“We need to work on communication more,” Noland said. “Communication is more than just my office, though — it’s deans, it’s chairs, it’s everyone talking and sharing together.”
Through surveying students, the university found that many students felt comfortable with their professors and many would enroll at ETSU all over again if they had the chance.
“I am never going to stand in front of you and say we’re an institution that should be Top 50 overall,” Noland said. “But let me put a lens around that and say in select programs of excellence we should hope to be Top 50, Top 20 and in many respects, No. 1.”
Noland said Quillen College of Medicine is number eight in the nation for its focus on medicine.
Noland also briefly discussed the plans for construction in renovations to the campus before taking questions from the audience.