Dear LSSU Alums:
As I approach a full year at Lake Superior State University, I find myself reflecting on the amazing accomplishments we have achieved in such a short time. Growing enrollment continues to be one of the top priorities at LSSU. The university has revamped its marketing and recruitment capabilities, particularly with respect to data and analytics, target marketing and scholarship awarding. Given the overall slowing rate of college applications nationwide and in Michigan, attracting students with a strong interest in our university has become more important than ever in our recruiting efforts.
Last year, LSSU increased its First-Time-in-College enrollment by 12.2% primarily through increasing applications through mass marketing. LSSU was one of the only universities in Michigan to do so. In hindsight, this strategy required an unsustainably high rate of applicant growth due to a much lower yield dynamic than has been historically present at LSSU. Going forward, we are seeking to focus much more on attracting high-interest applicants to generate more yield per applicant. While total application numbers have declined from last year, the quality of the applicants has increased as indicated by the number of applicants who have filed a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This year, we are experiencing a 12.5% increase in applicants who filed a FAFSA over last year, indicating a greater number of high-interest applicants so far this year.
Fundraising and planning for the Richard and Theresa Barch Center for Freshwater Research and Education continues this year. This $13.2 million project requires a $4,350,000 match from LSSU, making it one of the most substantial projects in the university’s history. Fundraising gifts, grants, and pledges for CFRE have exceeded $3,300,000 as of January 25, 2019. Phase 400 (Design Development) planning was completed in January and Phase 500 work (Construction Documentation) is underway.
Locating CFRE in Sault Ste. Marie’s Alford Waterfront Park will create a unique educational, recreational, and fishing venue for citizens and tourists. The impact of CFRE on the Eastern UP will be significant in terms of enhancing LSSU’s academic reputation and enrollment; expanding quality research and the vitality of fish populations; creating innovative education and outreach to teach K-12 students about the Great Lakes; and serving as an economic driver for the area. Construction is expected to begin in mid-to-late summer of 2019.
The opening of the state-of-the-art Simulation Center for Nursing and Healthcare Programs center occurred on September 21, 2018. War Memorial Hospital (WMH) committed $500,000 to transform the first floor of an existing building on campus into a sim center that overlooks the International Bridge to Canada. Collaboration between LSSU and WMH will create opportunities to expand our nursing program and develop new healthcare programs of study. This partnership will enable the two institutions to utilize other facilities on campus to sponsor large conferences drawing medical professionals from Canada, the U.S.A. and beyond, generating new revenue streams for both LSSU and WMH. The sim center expands capacity for teaching, thereby increasing enrollment in the LSSU nursing program by over 30%.
In response to Governor Whitmer’s State-of-the-State address on February 12, 2019 and Governor Snyder’s address to the Public University Summit in September 2017, LSSU reaffirms its commitment and roots as a career-oriented and experiential-learning educational experience. Building on our national reputation in robotics, engineering, fisheries and wildlife management, criminal justice, and fire science, our strategic direction continues to foster academic innovation among our programs. LSSU is currently expanding associate and certificate programs to emphasize growing employment areas and jobs readiness. Recent programmatic additions include culinary arts, geographical information systems, e-marketing, international business, and cannabis chemistry. Additional jobs-ready programs are currently being developed and will be rolled out in the coming months. The result of our strategic direction and new programs focused on jobs readiness will prepare LSSU graduates for the jobs of tomorrow.
The 2019 Commencement Ceremony will quickly be upon us. I look forward to the conclusion of another successful academic year and shaking the hands of the graduates walking across the commencement stage on their big day. I also hope to get the chance to meet you, if I have not done so already.
Thank you for your support of Lake Superior State University! We are doing great things for our students!
Dr. Rodney S. Hanley