Mary Baldwin University reports robust enrollment growth

mary baldwin universityAt a time when overall college enrollment is in decline and after facing one of its most challenging undergraduate enrollment cycles, Mary Baldwin University has changed its trajectory and recruited the largest class of first-year students in its history.

So far, 427 students have made their deposits and are ready to start college at Mary Baldwin next month. At present count, that represents a 216 percent increase over last year’s first-year enrollment.

“This kind of turnaround is unheard of in higher education, but Mary Baldwin has always been nimble and ready to respond to both students’ needs and changes in the marketplace,” said President Pamela R. Fox. “I’m proud of my colleagues for this remarkable achievement and excited for those in the Class of 2022, who will join us this fall to pursue lives of purpose on our vibrant campus. It has been a year of incredible hard work and great reward. Our success lies in the collective achievements of the entire MBU family.”

The hard work began last fall and was shared across the Staunton campus. When faced with a 46 percent drop in residential undergraduate enrollment of first-year, full-time students in September 2017, Mary Baldwin leadership decided to take an entirely new approach to marketing the 176-year-old institution, making undergraduate admissions a priority for all departments across campus.

“We threw out the playbook,” said Vice President of Integrated Communications Aimee Rose. “We emphasized the student experience and made undergraduate admissions everyone’s job. This tremendous success we’re experiencing — and in such a short amount of time — is giving us the momentum and providing the insight we’ll need to retain these students and to recruit for our high-demand graduate and online offerings.”

It started with a compelling message. A new viewbook used the student perspective to convey MBU’s distinct academic, cultural, athletic, and social offerings.

Then the university worked to deliver that message to more students who are a good fit through a streamlined application process, increased personal outreach, and new academic scholarship opportunities.

Widespread campus improvements helped bring the viewbook to life on the historic campus, and reinforced the student-centered university culture. Spring visit days brought record-breaking crowds to MBU. While on campus, prospective students had experiences specifically designed to help them bond with their peers and Mary Baldwin faculty.

A renaissance for MBU Athletics is also a vital piece of the rebound strategy. Improvements to athletics facilities, including a new soccer field and fitness lanes, as well as robust recruitment have attracted student athletes locally and from across the country.

In fact, about 75 of the first-year class are athletes. Among all incoming freshmen, about 83 percent are female and 17 percent are male. They come from 34 states, with more than 200 from Virginia.

This summer, facilities crews are working hard to prepare residence halls for the influx of students. New students will arrive on campus the week of August 27; classes begin September 3.

Founded in 1842, Mary Baldwin University is a small, coeducational university offering a range of degree programs from bachelor to doctoral. It serves a vibrant student population on its main campus in Staunton, Virginia; at its nearby health sciences campus in Augusta County; online; and through regional advising centers throughout Virginia.

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