Enrollment decreases at Kent while freshman class grows


Members of the Faculty Senate listen to opening remarks from Chair Pamela Grimm during the meeting Monday Sep. 10, 2018.

Rachel Hale

Fall Kent campus enrollment dropped 800 students from a year ago, Kent State’s President Beverly Warren told Faculty Senate Monday, about 200 more than Kent State initially expected.

Even with the decrease in enrollment, this year’s freshmen class is the biggest in school history. The class of 2022 includes 4,363 students, 100 more than last year and about 50 more than the record set in 2016.

Warren said half of the enrollment decline comes from domestic students and half from international students. International enrollment has dropped 1,800 from a record high of 3,000 in 2015.

The largest factor in declining domestic enrollment, Warren said, is the fact that students are graduating faster. That means students on campus are not paying tuition for a fifth or sixth year.

“Our four-year graduation rate is up 10 percent,” she said. “So we’re doing some things right in terms of pushing students to believe that they can ensure they graduate in four years.”

Warren said one reason students are graduating sooner is that they are coming to Kent State with almost 17 credit hours because of advanced placement courses and other college credit programs for high school students. That’s more than a full semester course load.

University counselors have pushed students to take at least 15 credit hours a semester to make sure they graduate in four years.

Warren said the university needs to increase domestic enrollment in order to make up for the students who graduate early and she said a key part of increasing enrollment is the hiring of a vice president for enrollment management. The search process is underway and the university plans to have candidates on campus by October.

Faculty Senate members have questioned the new vice president position as the university slowed down hiring last spring. In an email to senators in August, former Faculty Senate Chair Deb Smith argued that the money would be better spent on hiring professors to replace those who took an early retirement option in the last two years.

Warren asked the senators to support the idea of the new vice president position because enrollment is critical to bringing in the money that could be used to hire new professors.

“Enrollment continues to be the primary driver of our budget,” she said. Tuition and state aid overall play a large part in the university’s enrollment.

Warren also said:

• Enrollment is down about 1,000 across all eight campuses.

• The freshmen class is “the most talented and the most diverse class in over a decade.”

• First-year retention of freshmen is up to nearly 81 percent, and minority retention rate is up percentage points and up more than 14 percentage points since 2010.

Correction: An earlier version of this incorrectly stated the freshmen class size. The class of 2022 has 4,363 students, while the class of 2021 had 4,263 students.

Rachel Hale is an administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected].