The higher education landscape has changed dramatically over the past several years. Challenges including access to higher education for all learning populations, the desire for diversity, and the decline in the number of college-age students, especially in the Northeast, have created a competitive environment among all institutions. To succeed, colleges and universities must balance these challenges with the opportunities confronting them, staying mindful that affordability and value are priorities and keeping up-to-date with the economic and workforce needs of the 21st century.

With this in mind, Niagara University is continuing to develop an internal culture that is centered on urgency, initiative, and thoughtful execution. All of the initiatives are guided by key operating principles that ensure everything done enhances the university’s commitment to its students; clearly defines and affirms that messaging transcends actions; and creates an outstanding campus experience for potential and current students.

Some restructuring has taken place in the university’s enrollment sector, laying the foundation for notable gains in several key performance indicators, including increased enrollment, an elevated college academic profile, and increased net tuition revenue.

In addition, the university is putting into place a sustained marketing initiative which emphasizes programs that are popular with students and produce graduates that are sought after by employers. Those programs include accounting, teacher education, criminal justice, nursing, and information security and digital forensics.

Recognizing the importance of outcomes to both parents and students, Niagara also established Pathways, a program offered through Career Services to ensure that students are engaged in the holistic process from the moment they step foot on campus. Through assessment, discovery, experiential learning, and implementation, students gain a full understanding of how their talents and interests intersect with the demands of the marketplace.

The results to date are encouraging—enrollment for the first-year class is up 26 percent, transfers are up 13 percent, visitors to the campus and applications are at an all-time high, and it appears likely that the number of first-year students will exceed 600 by Sept. 1--but there is still much to do to ensure Niagara provides an accessible, affordable education that gives students the confidence, clarity of direction, and heightened sense of purpose to succeed in their desired careers.  

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