4 months in: Huang talks campus in afternoon meeting

Category:  News
Friday, November 15th, 2019 at 11:50 AM
4 months in: Huang talks campus in afternoon meeting by Amber Chisholm
President Guiyou Huang addresses gathered university faculty and staff on Nov. 7. | Photo: Benjamin McCullough

Discussion includes increase in enrollment, formation of honors college and updates on EU plan

Those attending an afternoon employee-only meeting on Nov. 7, in a nearly full Van Houten South, listened closely as Edinboro University President Dr. Guiyou Huang discussed campus objectives and current data on student retention.

Huang began by sharing two campus goals: 1.) At least 5,000 enrolled students by 2022; and 2.) The already existing Honors Program will be converted to the newly-formed Honors College in January 2020. He then addressed concerns such as finances and student retention for the remainder of the presentation.

“Retention is big because bottom line, I do not want us to spend thousands and thousands bringing in hundreds of students; only 1/3 to 1/2 of those students graduate within five to six years. Only 31% of the freshman cohort graduate in four years,” said Huang early on, sharing the statistics on university graduation rates. For six-year students, that number is 51% based on federal government research. “By the sixth year, we lost just about half of the students that we brought in six years ago,” he said.

Huang then mentioned that it generally costs more to recruit a student than to keep one.

Retention will be a long-term priority as long as he’s president, said Huang, mentioning that Slippery Rock (81%) and West Chester (85%) have the highest retention rates of PA state schools. Edinboro, meanwhile, is just above 71% (around 75% in 2008), but the president believes EU can potentially be as good as those top achievers, or even better.

“We just have to do things right,” he said. Huang is currently pleased with the work that is already being done, as they attempt to meet the goal of retaining an additional 1% of students every year. A retention plan is already in progress, which is expected to be implemented within the next two months and to be as straightforward as possible.

To go in hand with this, Huang mentioned that the university has had an 18% increase in enrollment from 598 students in Fall 2018 to 706 students in Fall 2019.

One section of the presentation called “Vision for the Future” began with Huang clarifying that Edinboro faculty, staff and students should not expect miracles.

“I will not be a perfect president. I will be hardworking. I will be providing the personal leadership,” he said. He referred to the issues facing Edinboro as ones that not “one president, one provost, one dean, one vice president can all solve.” Instead, he explained that everyone involved must work together.

Huang stated that he will listen to any criticism and suggestions “on how to make the university stronger and financially more vibrant, more solid.” At one point, he shared his four “p” words of importance: “people, policy, procedures and place.” All should be considered, but the “people” aspect is especially important “for the benefit of this campus.”

He discussed the fiscal years 2021-2025, in which enrollment is expected to increase. Although, according to Huang, the level cannot be predicted at this point, he then re-emphasized retention of not just students, but staff as well.

Huang claimed that he’s not interested in retrenchment or cutting costs and spending, but is interested in both saving and generating revenue. Again, he pushed retention, saying about 70% of that revenue can be achieved there.

“A common goal is student success; a common goal is the future of this university,” he said, adding that Edinboro can do well by honestly and thoroughly sharing and listening to opinions and issues.

Huang believes the university is in decent shape, is getting better by the day and he’s confident in its ability to stand strong.
“I have no doubt. I have zero doubt that the university will be here for another 162 years,” he said.

Huang then took the time to thank Edinboro faculty and staff for their hard work and mentioned that the next two years will be “critically important” in both addressing and improving financial challenges.

After he concluded, before which no questions were asked, some audience members stayed to discuss what they heard among themselves, while others spoke with the president directly.

Kyle Churman, assistant director of admissions, shared his thoughts in an interview with The Spectator.

“I think, overall, Dr. Huang’s got a good plan,” he said. Churman’s work covers recruitment and agrees that it should be the university’s top goal and priority. Huang emphasized throughout the presentation the importance of both recruitment and retention. He’s also glad Huang believes in empowering faculty and staff in the quest to improve student retention rates.

“I, however, sometimes worry that if they’re here, they’re not then going to stay, and we need to make sure we can get really good students to be here and those students to stay, which I think we’re on the right track [to do],” he said.

Regarding why someone should attend and stay at Edinboro, Huang said that he would stress to them the great programs and their benefit to students’ careers. He also mentioned the great faculty, in both a teaching and mentoring sense, along with the safety and beauty of campus.

More information on goals and objectives can be seen in the Edinboro 2024 Strategic Plan, available on the website, and questions can be directed to Edinboro University President Dr. Guiyou Huang at president@edinboro.edu.

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