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Freshman confirmations are running at a 10-year high at St. Bonaventure University, up 22 percent from fall 2017 and more than 44 percent from fall 2015.
As of 10 a.m. today, 537 freshmen had committed to the university for fall 2018.
Bernie Valento, vice president for Enrollment Management, said the university has seen a dramatic spike in freshman enrollment from Buffalo (up 73 percent from fall 2017) and Rochester (up 28 percent), bolstered by out-of-state students who will make up more than 26 percent of the freshman class.
May 1 is the unofficial College Decision Day, but almost all institutions continue enrolling students through the summer.
In response to the state’s new Excelsior Scholarship, unveiled last summer to provide free SUNY and CUNY tuition to students under certain income thresholds, the university increased scholarship levels by as much as $4,000 for the most academically gifted students.
“Yes, we increased our scholarship packages, but the effort was strategic and financially responsible in response to Excelsior,” said Dr. Dennis DePerro, about to complete his first year as university president. “One of the great byproducts of the decision is that the incoming class is one of the most talented academically that we’ve had in some time.”
But more generous aid was only one reason for the significant bump in enrollment, DePerro said. Just three years ago, the incoming freshman class was only 390 students.
“This didn’t happen by accident,” said DePerro. “This was a collective and collaborative effort across all divisions of the university, from academics and athletics to enrollment, marketing, ministries and student affairs.”
One of the things that attracted DePerro to seek the presidency was seeing the upward trajectory the university was on thanks to the strategic plan that had just been implemented when he came on board. The plan continues to evolve as demands and needs change, he said.
“Initiatives like new majors in health science and cybersecurity, the School of Health Professions that we’re building, our veterans recruitment program, the addition of men’s lacrosse – all of these things and many more have revitalized our presence in Western New York and the Northeast,” he said.
The university also devoted more resources this year to digital, TV, radio and billboard advertising in Buffalo and Rochester, and reaped the benefits of the best men’s basketball season in 40 years.
“No question, the tremendous exposure we received from the great season the Bonnies had gave us an additional boost,” DePerro said. “But we also had a great season six years ago for both of our basketball teams and we saw no substantial bump in enrollment.
“Exposure like that only helps if students who turn their attention to you during that period of heightened awareness can see that you have exciting programs and offerings that entice them to come here,” he said.
The university has also expanded its online graduate programs in the last three years, attracting students from all over the country.
Between spring 2017 and spring 2018, online graduate enrollment increased 102 percent. New programs added this academic year in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling have added 51 students.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
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