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Goal Three: diversity

Welcome a student body of high-achieving students who represent America's diversity.

The college has made strides to increase racial diversity among its student enrollment. Today, 10.5 percent of Augustana students are members of a racial minority, compared with 7.5 percent five years ago. At the start of the 2008-09 academic year, we welcomed Mark Anderson to campus as the college's new director of the Office of Diversity Services and assistant dean of students. Anderson's duties will focus on continuing to move the college toward our strategic goal of growing a more diverse campus community, adding diversity programs and supporting students.

While Augustana's highest priority in terms of building a diverse student body is to increase ethnic diversity, as we move into more challenging times for college enrollments we also aim to attract students from outside Illinois. Under the leadership of W. Kent Barnds, Augustana's admissions office has identified new markets in Colorado-our most successful new market-as well as in Texas, Arizona, California and Missouri. For the 2008-09 academic year, the number of students enrolling from these states has reached levels not seen in years, and that are in some cases unprecedented. As we continue to implement a more aggressive recruitment philosophy rather than a traditional admissions approach, we predict an increase in geographic diversity primarily through attracting more students from these areas.

Reflecting the changing demographics of the upper Midwest high school population, our entering class for the 2008-09 academic year did not match the record yield of the previous two years. However, this year's class did reach some milestones. Augustana's first-year class reflects the highest selectivity of any other year during the past five years; ACT scores have remained steady and we enrolled a greater number of students in the top 10 and 20 percent of their high school classes. Furthermore, retention was very high this year, with attrition rates dropping by 6 percent since five years ago. Thanks also to a record number of transfer students, Augustana's enrollment currently stands at 2,537, slightly over the 2,500 envisioned for 2010 in the college's strategic plan.

Market research on the college's recruitment process and recent results, involving both recently enrolled students and non-enrolling students, gave us insight that will inform our marketing and recruitment strategies moving forward. The findings, from research conducted during the summer and fall, also reflect the primary goals of our strategic plan:

  • Augustana College must attract populations we have not historically attracted;
  • at the same time, the college must strengthen its reputation to maintain our existing share of the market;
  • we must highlight programs, both curricular and co-curricular, through which we can distinguish the college and introduce ourselves to new markets.

Recent findings also indicate that the strength of academic majors-more specific than overall strength of the academic program-is more widely regarded by high school seniors than in previous years. At the college's admissions-sponsored campus visit days this year, academic departments have been represented by faculty members willing to speak individually with students and families interested in their programs. Such revitalized efforts on the part of the faculty go far to stimulate interest in the Augustana experience and environment, and can forecast the kinds of academic relationships that will benefit students once they enroll at Augustana.