Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

SMC sees positive enrollment trends

01/28/2020 - 9am

In his first President’s Report to the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees Monday night, Dr. Joe Odenwald detailed positive enrollment trends.

“I’m happy to report that enrollment contact hours, because of the hard work of a lot of people on the academic and support sides, is up eight-tenths of one percentage point for spring over last year,” Odenwald said.

“We were up pretty much all the way from when spring registration opened in late October,” Odenwald said. “We got our schedule out this year a month ahead of time. That was hard work, but it gave four weeks to advise, which really made a difference. Eight-tenths of a percentage point is not a barn-burner, but some other facts put this into context.”

“Looking ahead,” Odenwald said, “fall applications are up 20 percent. If we maintain this trend, we’re looking at about a 5-percent increase in students. We were up 11 percent in the fall of 2019 in first-time students over the year before, so the fall of 2020 looks better already. We’re going to have more returners than we did a year ago because we had a tough 2018. We were down 10 percent overall in the fall of 2018. We’ve weathered that.”

During his interview in October, Odenwald told trustees he thought SMC needed to grow enrollment at least 3 percent “to survive. These numbers we’ve got look good. I think we’re set up for a really good fall. I cannot overstate how good it is to have had three terms in a row. We were up modestly in summer, up modestly in fall and up modestly in spring.”

Sixteen orientations start in April.

The Board of Trustees acknowledged Dec. 23’s death at 95 of early trustee Dorothy Brown.

Mrs. Brown served almost four years, from October 1965 until August 1969. She was appointed to succeed her late husband, Carroll, treasurer on the founding board and general manager of Cupples Door and Frame in Dowagiac.

“As the current stewards of SMC, we understand that we carry on a legacy shaped by our predecessors,” Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon wrote in a letter to her family. “We are thankful for Dorothy’s service to our community and hope that during this difficult time you are able to take some solace in remembering all of the families whose lives she improved with her dedication to helping students attain their educational goals.”