The unforetold numbers of the 2019 enrollment

In the occurrence that a mission statement is born, the founding parents of that mission statement take into account that a promise and expectation is being born with it.

Washburn University’s mission statement concludes with “We develop and engage in relationships to enhance educational experiences and our community.”

Executive Director of Enrollment Management, Richard Liedtke started his dedicated services to Washburn as the vice president of enrollment services, admissions, enrollment services and one-stop and worked his way up to the official Director of enrollment management.

As a North Carolina native, Richard Liedtke simply stated his reason on why he chose Washburn, he said, “Washburn is about opportunity and access.”

Richard Liedtke emphasized his dedication by stating, “I believe in the mission and the vision of this institution and I wanted to work for somebody that had a great vision and Dr. Farley seemed to be that person, and Dr. Farley has done wonderful things at Washburn.”

In 2011, the enrollment at Washburn was at the all time peak, reaching the almost record-breaking number, 7,303, which was only 3 enrollment applicants shy of the unsurpassed record breaking enrollment count of 7,306 that Washburn has held.

“Each year, we want to grow a little bit, we try and grow. It depends on the environment were in. We try to exceed last years numbers.” Liedtke went on, “That hasn’t been the case recently.”

As the peak of Washburn’s enrollment sat with comfort in the year 2011, following years, 2012 though 2015 the numbers that Washburn held for enrollment fell and in 2016, the enrollment at Washburn University slowly climbed back up. In the year 2017, enrollment jumped from 6,615, to 6,636. In the year 2018, Washburn University’s enrollment took a steady dip, it is unclear where the upcoming enrollment at the university will coast in the year of 2019.

The challenges that Washburn faces determining whether enrollment spikes and plummets is the essential competition that Washburn faces against the universities, one of the biggest challenges that Washburn has discussed, focusing on the past 10 years, is the initial retention of students.

Richard Liedtke explained, “One of the focuses we have is trying to retain more students and we’ve done a great job with first year and second year retention and growing at over 10 percentage points, which has the university sitting at 72% right now.”

When the university takes into consideration that they are essentially a business upholding a service to thousands of paying customers, the pressure increases as does the level of competing universities. Essentially, when putting this concept into the university’s perspective, the institution has to face the challenge that other universities essentially have the same focus, which is first and second-year retention. Initially, Washburn receives transfer enrollment from 19 different community colleges in Kansas. If the competing colleges are doing a better job at retaining their students, then Washburn’s numbers for transfer enrollment declines. However, of those 19 universities, only 3 of them have obtained a positive enrollment incline.

Richard Liedtke and his team take each student’s application which is processed and then further sorted into a category or type of student. After the students are sorted into types of students that are enrolled then those numbers can be further input to an overall census of the university, which includes numerous categories in which students are separated, such as; transfer, international, returning, continuing, undergraduate, etc. The highest type of student enrollment at Washburn is the continuing student, which is a significant reason as to why the universities emphasize on the retention of students.

Richard Liedtke concluded with stating that the significance of education is something that everyone should promote. He encourages students to share their experience at Washburn. Richard Liedtke emphasized that every student has an individual story that may or may not produce a ripple effect and if students chose to share their personal experience their inspiration could influence another to take that leap to better their education, whether that be at Washburn or another university. He believes education is something that has stood the test of time and should remain growing in a similar way to what the Washburn mission statement explains.