The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Ganther Says Bucks Must Boost Enrollment


With national higher education enrollment reaching historic lows, mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, budget deficits that are seemingly impossible to overcome, and a future as uncertain as ever, many institutions find themselves searching for methods to turn it all around.

Bucks President Dr. Felicia Ganther is more than aware of what the college has faced, will face, and how it intends to ensure its success in the future.

While an estimate from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center claims higher education enrollment across the country has declined by 5.1 percent over the last two years, the drop at Bucks is actually even higher.

Bucks saw an enrollment decrease of 8 percent from 2019 to 2020 and a 12 percent decrease from 2020 to 2021.

In response to those numbers, Dr. Ganther points out that, “We’re still lagging in Fall and Spring enrollment, so those numbers kind of hold.”

However, she also notes that the college has seen, “…a 30 percent increase in summer enrollment over the same time last year and a 10 percent increase over the same time two years ago.”

Unfortunately, since enrollment just opened up for the Fall semester, there aren’t any comparisons to previous Fall enrollment at this time.

Although we can look at the fact that national enrollment has actually been on a steady decline since before the pandemic, there are many obvious aspects of the outbreak that were specifically influential in continuing the decline.

Dr. Ganther believes that, “…opening back up the campus, people knowing that we’re open, and people feeling more comfortable with being back,” will almost certainly have a positive impact on enrollment.

Aside from recovering from the pandemic, Bucks has been involved with an enrollment consulting firm known as Ruffalo Noel Levitz for some time now.

The commitment with the firm will last 12 to 18 months and will feature a number of recommendations aimed at boosting enrollment.

While the college is hopeful some of these recommendations may be implemented sometime during the summer of 2022, the real objective is to have the recommendations used to increase the Fall 2023 do you mean 2022? enrollment.

According to Dr. Ganther, “This work is very critical to our accreditation, to our strategic planning, and of course to revenue generation due to tuition.”

When Dr. Ganther mentions the various levels of importance this relationship with the firm will bring, she’s stressing the value of taking the necessary time and conducting the correct amount of research to be able to gain a significant increase in future enrollment.

Bucks wants to be able to have a variety of unanimously agreed upon recommendations before mass implementation.

One particular implementation that is already decided upon revolves around the student information system.

In the near future, Bucks will be turning to the ERP Workday for student information services.

ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, which is software created to collect, log, manage, and translate many forms of information.

Where Workday is a means to simplify and efficiently provide information for students and faculty, there are unfortunately some future recommendations that may be hindered by the software.

“A lot of the functionalities that we would need in order to support enrollment are a part of the implication of this student information system. So, some of the recommendations may have a lag time, because they will be dependent and predicated upon successful implementation of the various components of Workday,” explains Dr. Ganther.

Perhaps not the most encouraging information, we must remind ourselves that large changes take time, and tend to have periods of stasis before success.

Outside of the research from the Noel Levitz firm, Dr. Ganther and other Bucks administrators have been looking at numerous ways to be accessible to anyone interested in an education.

When looking into course scheduling and offerings, it became clear that students with specific timing engagements are unable to complete full time programs on the current Monday/Wednesday, or Tuesday/Thursday class schedule system.

To combat this issue, the college hopes to launch weekend course offerings that would be part of an 18-month degree program in January of 2023.

Many people who participate in New Year’s resolutions tend to look into pursuing education in hopes of bettering their careers.

“We want to right there to support those who may be thinking about doing that,” Dr. Ganther half jokes.

Another portion of this accessibility relies on institutional partnerships. A student who is able to remain in a similar location, with a similar course schedule, and a similar time frame will be more likely to pursue a degree after acquiring their Associate’s.

The more comfortable students feel about accessibility, the better the chance is of increased enrollment and institutional funding based in tuition and other areas.

As we continue to face a $7 million budget deficit at Bucks, it’s no surprise that finances and funding are extremely crucial in positively moving forward.

Referring back to our conversation last year, Dr. Ganther still maintains that all employees of the college need not worry about programs losing funding, or individuals losing employment in order to cover the deficit.

Currently, we are exploring interim structures. This is to say the college is searching for individuals already employed by the institution who would be able to serve in alternative capacities.

“Next year, we’ll have an interim provost, interim academic vice presidents, and interim deans,” expresses Dr. Ganther.

This process will allow the college to determine what is actually affordable before hiring new employees.

With regards to changes to academic departments, the kinesiology and sports studies programs will be moved to the health sciences department. This integration will keep the faculties of said departments intact.

As someone who does not believe it cutting things unnecessarily, Dr. Ganther has also been looking into external funding. This can include grants and scholarships.

“We have been working hard with some of our partners to see if they can step in and provide a service, in lieu of us trying to pay for that service,” she adds.

Her hope is to be able to redivert traditionally set aside funds for programs and services to areas in need.

At the end of the day, Bucks will need to be present in the community in order to reach desired success in the future.

“The community has to see the value proposition of why the college exists, how the citizenry can benefit from the fact that we are not necessarily just an institution that beings in traditional aged recent high school graduates…,” expresses Dr. Ganther.

She finishes the interview reminding us of the importance of accessibility.

“I think the success of Bucks is going to be predicated on our ability to meet the needs of people where they are at this moment and not continue to project a traditional college environment. That’s core to who we are, but we’re more than that, and we have to be more than that. We have a lot to offer and we’re going to have to blow our own bugles. People have to see us because we are showing people who we are.”

Even though nothing is promised in these trying times, we at Bucks should be confident that Dr. Ganther and her administration has the institution’s best interests at heart, and that she fully intends to lead us out of the depths of the last few years.