Enrollment numbers remain constant


Anna Malesiewski, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the fall semester in many ways for many universities nationwide. However at Gannon, COVID-19 has not drastically affected enrollment figures.

According to Bill Edmondson, vice president of enrollment, enrollment for the fall semester is not drastically off-target from years past, which might have been expected given the current pandemic.

“As of the population study we have 4,249 students enrolled at Gannon University,” Edmondson said. “This number is down slightly from last year (4,444), which was the highest enrollment since 1991, but 29 students above what we had budgeted for based on our COVID-19  adjustments.”

Gannon does not project a sharp decline in enrollment from the fall to spring semesters, according to Edmondson.

“For spring 2021, assuming we are having classes on campus, we only anticipate the normal slight drop in enrollment that we have every year from fall to spring,” Edmondson said.

Gannon also attributes the high number of freshmen on campus to the high levels of communication and heavy emphasis on COVID-19 prevention. According to Steven Mauro, Ph.D., vice president of strategies and campus operations, Gannon may have even benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our retention this year was at a near all time-high,” Mauro said. “If anything COVID-19 might have positively impacted retention as we were able to develop initiatives and demonstrate our commitment to students and their success during these challenging times that we hope demonstrates that we are here for them and will not deter from offering students a great Gannon experience and education.”

Regular communication and COVID-19 prevention messaging between students and administration have aided in retention as well, according to Mauro.

“We have constant messaging going out that is showing how we are maintaining safe conditions for the university,” Mauro said. “I believe this has helped answer questions before they arise and provide a sense of security to students who are attending Gannon in person.”

However, while freshman retention remains positively impacted by the pandemic, the number of freshmen living on campus has dropped from years past.

“The percent of freshmen living on campus has dropped a few points this fall,” Edmondson said. “Some students are choosing to stay closer to home and commute, others are delaying enrollment until after the pandemic, and for global students many borders are closed and they cannot get here.”

According to Edmondson, there is also a decline in high school graduates this year as a result of the pandemic, which has consequently made it difficult to maintain and boost enrollment for many universities, not just Gannon.

However, Gannon is making efforts to boost enrollment for the coming semester and the academic year to follow. Edmondson said that not only are Gannon’s experiences offering online and hyflex learning options beneficial in boosting enrollment, but Gannon’s testing services are also aiding this endeavor.

“It is my understanding that we are one of the few schools in the country that is doing our own testing; this ability along with the responsible actions of our students will contribute to Gannon University remaining open for face to face instruction,” Edmondson said. “If the pandemic lingers on, this fact might help us recruit students who want a face-to-face experience that they might not get at other schools.”

Ryan Popovich, a freshman physical therapy major, agrees that frequent testing aids in students’ ability to feel protected at Gannon.

“Gannon’s ability to test and get results back within 24 hours helps respond to positive cases faster and keep exposure to a minimum,” Popovich said. “I feel safe at Gannon without a doubt.”

Above all, the unique Gannon experience is what keeps students coming back, even during a pandemic. According to Mauro, the sense of community that is present at Gannon is unmatched, and sets Gannon apart from other universities especially in times such as these.

“I have worked at many places in my career, but nowhere comes close to comparing to Gannon in the teamwork that exists at Gannon, especially in the area of student care and success,” Mauro said.

“Everyone is truly working as a team and is willing to put aside their individual needs for the greater good. I think that students can sense that our faculty, staff and administration truly cares and has their best interests at heart in all that we do. What better place is there to be?”


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