As October begins, it is easy to enjoy this season at Wells with all the splendid colors and the change in the air that fall brings. The enthusiasm across campus since we welcomed our new and returning students just a few short weeks ago is exciting and refreshing. I have heard from many of you that our students seem very much engaged and ready to embody the Wells experience.
A week ago, the Cabinet and the Board of Trustees met in a fall retreat where there were two major themes that emerged from the conversations: the challenges facing the higher education industry and how Wells continues to celebrate our successes while we look to evolve with all the changes happening around us. Some of the successes we talked about involved a solid recruiting year for our first-year first-source incoming students as well as transfers, higher than expected retention rates for our returning students, recognition of exceeding our fundraising goals, and then just recently receiving the news of Wells being the recipient of the Title III grant. We have a lot to be proud of at Wells and I applaud all of you for your role in our success story.
It should not be a surprise to anyone that higher education continues to face significant challenges and Wells is not immune. All institutions nationwide are reevaluating strategies as we head into a significant demographic shift, especially in the northeast, that will impact enrollment. Earlier this year a series of articles were published by Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence under the headline “Higher Education’s New Era” that suggested the industry was facing a “moment of change” that will require new business models and new educational strategies.
As you can imagine, Wells is immersed in this new challenging environment and discussions are taking place at the Board-level about further investments around our strategic initiatives including: workforce partnerships and micro-credentials, Wells in Florence program and a deep commitment to global education, as well as keeping our partnerships alive, such as our SU Pathways program. You can read about these initiatives in our most current Strategic Plan (2024-26).
I hope you can sense from what I have shared today that our Board continues to believe in the strength and resilience of Wells College even in the midst of these national challenges. For faculty and staff, further campus updates will be shared at our first semester Faculty/Staff Open Forum, Wednesday October 18, 12:30-2:00 p.m., Stratton 209.