CENTRAL – A philosophical change helped produce a 20 percent growth in new traditional program students at Southern Wesleyan University this year, according to the school’s president.
Todd Voss, entering his third year as president at the university based in Central, said the number of new freshman joining the traditional program at the Central campus grew from just under 200 last year to around 240 for the fall semester. He distinguishes the Central campus from satellite campuses of the university scattered across South Carolina.
The philosophical change is one to a more giving frame of mind, Voss said. To him that means more openness to community organizations and functions and a more straight-forward approach to student fees.
He came from a situation at another university in which enrollment grew and revenues grew but he felt something was lacking. “I felt the piece that was missing was a philosophy of giving. As success grew, it started to go to pretty things up. When I came here, I thought if we start out with a mind set of giving, we might avoid that.”
So the SWU facilities are more open to events like the Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce Annual membership meeting last week. The athletic department is working with area organizations to allow use of university facilities for sporting events.
During t last academic year, the school organized a volunteer day in which several hundred students volunteered time to area organizations.
The philosophy has also led to a new way of thinking about fees. A plan for future tuition is for all costs to be handled in an amount known upfront. “It is a game that some schools play,” Voss said. Students will pay tuition and then find out later that fees are due for some classes.
Voss’ belief is that the school can grow overall revenue by being more straight-forward on costs and attracting more students.
Enrollment also grows this academic semester because the school is reaching out to athletes. Other academic programs have also increased enrollment, he said.
An initial goal is to grow enrollment from around the current 900 traditional students on campus to around 1,200, Voss said.