USI’s colleges work to increase student enrollment numbers


Photo by Ian Young

Students walk away from the Liberal Arts Center Wednesday. Departments and staff prepare plans to increase student enrollment after an 11-year decline.

Ian Young, Staff Writer

The university’s colleges are working to increase student enrollment after student enrollment decreased for the 11th year in a row. 

The Fall 2022 total enrollment was 7,361 students compared to the 7,938 students for Fall 2021. The 7% decrease in enrollment from Fall 2021 to Fall 2022 follows a decade of decreasing enrollment. 

The university’s enrollment numbers follow the national trend of decreasing enrollment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, national undergraduate enrollment decreased by 9% between 2009 and 2020. 

Provost Mohammed Khauym was first contacted Oct. 31 by The Shield, and, as of Nov. 11, had not responded for comment. Rashad Smith, executive director of enrollment, was contacted Oct. 31 and directed The Shield to the University’s Communications’ Sept. 19 press release that announced the Fall 2022 decreased enrollment. 

According to the press release, Khayum said the university’s success in increasing graduation rates will require the university to place more urgency on reversing the decline in the size of new freshman classes.

The College of Liberal Arts and the Romain College of Business are working to improve enrollment numbers for their colleges. 

Del Doughty, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said representatives from the college are beginning to work with local high school principals and guidance counselors to improve recruitment. 

“Instead of just looking at data like GPA or test scores, we go out and ask high school principals and counselors,” Doughty said. “It’s kind of like a holistic way of looking at students and trying to find the right fit for them.”

He said they are looking for students who might not have achieved high academic success. 

“Principles and guidance counselors can see the promise in a person, and we’re just asking them to send them our way,” Doughty said.

Doughty said the College of Liberal Arts and the Romain College of Business are looking for students who are “curious, intellectually adventurous” and have “untapped potential.”

Sudesh Mujumdar, dean of the Romain College of Business, said the high schoolers will still have to go through the application process. The college has made contact with several schools in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. 

Mujumdar said the long-term goal is to build longer-term relationships with high schools. 

“I talked about building these bonds with high schools early on when I applied for the position as dean,” Mujumdar said. “If we build these bonds early on, maybe they’ll choose us as their partners in their journey to their successful future.”

Mujumbar said improving enrollment numbers is more than making the right advertisement campaign, it is creating the university students want to see. 

He said, “If you don’t do the hard work early on, thinking about what value our students want to see, it’s not going to be that meaningful.”