Following a year with record enrollment decline across the country, the question on the minds of many higher education professionals was, will college enrollment rebound for the 2023-2024 academic year?
For Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU), that question was a resounding "YES" as the university experienced a 16.9-percent increase in its fall enrollment numbers, reporting 2,196 students compared to the 1,879 students enrolled in the Fall of 2022.
Dr. Jerryl Briggs, Sr., the eighth president of MVSU, passionately initiated the "Bounce Back" campaign, a direct and intentional effort to regain university momentum with enrollment growth. The idea is to diligently work not just to plan but to operationalize several strategies to move MVSU forward.
"Given last year's enrollment decline, we immediately implemented our "Bounce Back" enrollment initiatives to not only recruit more new students but also to focus on our retention and persistence goals equally," said Dr. Briggs.
"As we saw from our IHL (Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning) system's enrollment report, seven out of the eight IHL institutions experienced an enrollment decline for the Fall 2022 semester, so the challenge was state-wide, but for MVSU, it was personal," said Dr. Briggs.
"We created a Strategic Enrollment Operations Council comprised of representatives from the university and the MVSU National Alumni Association who met regularly to implement attainable strategies for the university," he added.
Thomas J. Calhoun, Jr., Ph.D., Vice President for Enrollment Management/Student Affairs, shared that through the first few months, there has been a pleasant and engaging fill on the campus this year.
"The dining hall, sidewalks, and student activities are busy and well attended. Our student engagement has been exciting, and the campus is filled with energy this year. There is a sense of excitement, hope, and pride from all our students, and that is contagious around campus," said Calhoun.
In addition to the overall enrollment increase, the university is excited to see a rise in the admission of new first-time students to MVSU. The university experienced a 41-percent increase this year, with 603 new first-time students compared to 428 new first-time students in the Fall of 2022.
"To have such a significant enrollment increase, compared to last year's numbers, shows the hard work and dedication of our university community. We will continue to share 'The Valley Story' with potential new students and the value-added perspective on attaining a college degree from MVSU," said Dr. Briggs.
"Great things are happening at The Valley, and it is encouraging to see our new and continuing students investing in our and their future. Please know that this is not a one-year anomaly, as we will continue to build this great institution to ensure our long-term sustainability. Indeed, Mississippi Valley State University is in Motion," Dr. Briggs added.