Buffalo State searches for ways to increase enrollment

During his campus address in September, interim President Howard Cohen identified a plan to address six focus areas he deemed crucial to the college’s future. Cohen called these the “Six Priorities,” which he will oversee this year while Buffalo State searches for its next president. This is the fourth story of six that will run in The Record to elaborate on the President’s plans as they come to fruition.

In response to declining enrollment across the country, aspects of SUNY Buffalo State will be adjusted to become more efficient and inviting for prospective students.

In line with other priorities from the president’s office, increasing enrollment aims to bring students into the institution, and keep them here until graduation.

The advancement of other top priorities, like economic development and institutional sustainability, will directly affect enrollment.

Interim President Howard Cohen said that businesses formed on campus through Start-Up New York could make Buffalo State attractive to prospective students because of how available internship opportunities will be with those businesses.

The addition or modification of academic programs is expected to positively affect enrollment.

Cohen said programs that are losing development due to decreased student interest might be able to be reconfigured to become more appealing to students, as well as more beneficial to the Western New York region.

“If there are programs that we should have, and don’t have … I think we need to know that, and see how we can develop them,” Cohen said.

Hal Payne, vice president of student affairs, said that the admissions process for qualifying students looking to go to Buffalo State after graduating from high school would be simplified.

“For students who are in the 85th percentile in their high school class, or higher, we’re doing automatic advancement,” Cohen said, “and doing whatever we need to do to clear any obstacles they might have in enrolling.”

There are a few additional ways that Buffalo State enrollment will be coaxed to increase.

Cohen said that a program called Compass is used in the admissions process at Buffalo State for students who apply to the Educational Opportunity Program and do not end up qualifying.

“We’re going to increase enrollment in the Compass program by about another 50 students,” Cohen said.

Payne has been working with area community colleges to help secure an increased source for transfer students.

“I personally met with … the enrollment management staff at Erie Community College to talk about ways that students who indicate an intention to enroll at Buffalo State after they complete their associate’s degree begin interacting with (Buffalo State) faculty early in their two year matriculation,” Payne said.

Cohen said that Buffalo State is going to be more intense about recruiting transfer students from community colleges in the area like Erie Community College and Niagara County Community College.

“We’ll be sending recruiters out to their campuses to talk to students who are finishing up their associate’s degrees,” Cohen said.

Provost Dennis Ponton said it is possible that the admissions process for transfer students could be facilitated by allowing them to be counted the same as Buffalo State students during registration, instead of pushing them further to the back of the line.

A council has been activated to steer student enrollment and is being convened by Ponton. He said the council looks at ways to expedite the admissions process and find ways to make sure that interested students have the information they need to get through the process.

“Sometimes you’ll have multiple offices sending out lots of information to accepted students, and we want to make sure they’re not just overwhelmed with things,” Ponton said. “I think that’s important.”

Payne said that collaboration with the student success office could make the scholarship awarding process to eligible students more streamlined.

“President Cohen has insisted that these changes be implemented immediately,” Payne said. “We are working to implement the change.”


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