Report to Board: More new students choosing ETSU
JOHNSON CITY – (Nov. 19, 2021) East Tennessee State University is one of just four public four-year colleges in the state that saw an increase in new students for the fall 2021 semester. While overall enrollment at ETSU is down approximately 3% from last fall, the number of new students choosing ETSU went up by 13 percent, President Brian Noland reported today to members of the Board of Trustees during their quarterly meeting in the D.P. Culp Student Center.
Noland said the overall enrollment decrease mirrors national trends and is likely due to the difficulties students in last year’s freshmen and sophomore classes faced in attempting to adjust to college life while in the midst of a global pandemic.
Students who were further along in their studies at the university fared better. Even with the challenges of the pandemic, ETSU saw its highest six-year graduation rate in the institution’s history. The six-year graduation rate measures students who began at ETSU in the fall of 2015 and had graduated by 2021.
Of the 1,856 students who began at ETSU this year, more than 1,400 are residents of Tennessee. Across the freshman class, the average high school GPA was 3.5 and the average ACT score was 22.6. Noland added that the university witnessed a rise in the number of out-of-state students from non-border county areas.
“Our efforts to make tuition more affordable for students in neighboring states have paid off,” Noland said.
Last year, ETSU cut out-of-state tuition rates nearly in half for students from Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Students from some counties close to the Tennessee line may even qualify for in-state tuition rates.
The board also heard a report on work related to the university’s 2016-2026 Strategic Plan through a review of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for 2021 presented by University Chief Planning Officer Dr. Michael Hoff. According to Hoff:
- Applications for admission remain strong and are trending in a positive direction
- While overall enrollment was impacted by COVID-19, freshmen enrollment was up – an indicator that ETSU is becoming the institution of choice for more students throughout the state
- Due to restrictions related to the pandemic, international enrollment remains low and is preventing ETSU from reaching enrollment targets
- Student success rates are at an all-time high
- Fundraising efforts are exceeding targets
- Extramural sponsored funding exceeded $82 million in 2021
- Faculty and staff satisfaction have greatly improved since 2016 according to national survey data.
In other actions, the trustees approved the establishment of a Master of Music degree, which ETSU will now prepare to take before the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for final approval. A 3.5% across-the-board salary enhancement for faculty and staff was also approved that will go into effect this month.
The board welcomed local entrepreneur Charles Allen Jr. as the newest Trustee and also approved a resolution thanking Trustee Scott Niswonger for his leadership and service to the board. In the resolution, Niswonger, who is stepping off the board was given the honorary title Inaugural Chairman Emeritus.