Cincinnati Christian University is closing its doors.
On Oct. 28, the university announced it would cease to be an accredited degree offering institution at the end of the fall semester.
The news came on the heels of the Higher Learning Commission’s July report, which detailed threats to Cincinnati Christian’s accreditation including decreasing enrollment, falling retention rates and loan repayment, as stated in the Cincinnati Business Courier.
On Nov. 13, Admissions Counselor Michael Miller, University Registrar Janet Rogers and Kim Overbey, director of teacher certification attended Cincinnati Christian’s transfer fair, in hopes of persuading students to transfer to Taylor.
According to Rogers, they received a couple of transcripts right off the bat and hope to gain a few more. Currently, one student has given their unofficial commitment to Taylor for spring 2020.
Additionally, Indiana Wesleyan University announced on Aug. 27 the termination of several faculty positions by the end of the 2019-20 school year, according to The Sojourn.
“We were looking at an ongoing budget deficit trend, and the only way we can get to a healthy budget that positions us for serving students well into the future is that we had to reset the number of employees we have,” said Rod Reed, Indiana Wesleyan University’s chancellor, in an article published in The Sojourn.
Facing similar pressures, Anderson University made the decision to cut five faculty members along with seven or eight staff members.
In addition, each department is cutting spending by 20%, according to an article by The Andersonian.
“I think we're all in the same boat,” Rogers said, stating that Christian schools with a similar demographic to Taylor are seeing slight declines in enrollment as well.
Earlier this year, Taylor reported a lower enrollment than expected, along with an estimated $2 million budget deficit.
Rogers and Steve Mortland, vice president of enrollment and strategic institutional engagement, said Taylor’s dip in enrollment was due to some students who withdrew and didn’t return in the fall.
The recent trends of lower enrollment are also the result of a decline in midwestern and northeastern high school graduates from which Taylor is able to recruit, Mortland added.
According to Mortland, by 2025 the number of available Midwest high school graduates will decline by 15%.
When examining the negative impacts of the decrease in enrollment on schools like Taylor, questions about Taylor’s future are raised.
“Taylor has a history of meeting difficult challenges, and of working through daunting circumstances,” said Interim President Paige Cunningham. “God has been faithful to provide what was needed for the time. I am confident that He will again guide us through this next chapter.”
In order to maintain enrollment, Taylor will need to gain a larger number of students in a shrinking pool, expand their reach to other parts of the country and world and develop programs to attract non-traditional students, Mortland said.
Additionally, Taylor will be recruiting more first-generation college students as well as students from diverse backgrounds, Cunningham said.
“Taylor has strong programs, meaningful traditions and a history of delivering outstanding results,” Mortland said. “Taylor is not in ‘survival mode’ which many other schools are, so it is from this position that decision will be made to strengthen Taylor for the coming demographic changes.”
Strengthening Taylor’s enrollment will also involve continuing the school’s current enrollment policies, including transferring credits.
For most prospective students, the decision to transfer schools comes down to money or how many AP or dual enrollment credits would transfer over, Rogers said. On average, students are coming in with eight to 12 AP or dual enrollment credits.
It is the job of the registrar's office to help students transfer credits to help offset the cost of college.
Currently, enrollment is not just the work of admissions, Mortland said. Faculty and staff also play a large part in delivering the Taylor product.
“For all current students, the strength of Taylor is important for more than just the four years they spend on campus,” Mortland said. “Students can also contribute by how they engage with and invest in the Taylor community. Living out the LTC and caring for each other will have the most significant impact on retention and overall enrollment health."