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WMU State of the University address focuses on enrollment

President Montgomery stands at a lectern with WMU's seal on it. He is wearing a gold tie and is flanked by banners depicting the campus.
Sehvilla Mann
/
WMUK
WMU President Edward Montgomery in a still from a live feed of the State of the University Address, April 5, 2022.

It was Western's first in-person State of the University event since 2019.

Western Michigan University President Edward Montgomery gave the school’s State of the University address Tuesday. In it, he outlined the steps Western is taking to reverse falling enrollment rates. They include becoming “more sophisticated” in student recruitment.

“Enrollment is the watchword, and I can tell you that in all my years of higher education, I've never seen the kind of campus-wide support for recruiting and enrolling an incoming class, as I've seen this semester,” Montgomery said.

The president said the school is reaching out to more high school sophomores and juniors, and is working to attract talented faculty and staff. Montgomery said the replacement of old buildings and other changes to “physical spaces” would also help recruitment.

“When we asked admitted students why they opted to go to other universities, overwhelmingly the single most common response was 'the physical environment,'” Montgomery said.

The president has faced criticism from some union leaders and faculty for campus-wide staff cuts during the pandemic. Critics say those cuts were fiscally unnecessary, and will only hurt educational quality, recruitment efforts and student retention.

In his speech, Montgomery alluded to reduced staffing on campus, but seemed to blame it on increased retirements and nationwide COVID-related economic woes.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.