President Sosulski holds town hall to discuss future of WC

By Delaney Runge

Copy Editor

In order to share information with the Washington College and Chestertown community, President Dr. Michael Sosulski held a town hall in Decker Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

According to an email sent from the Office of the President, the goal of the meeting was to “share a progress report on enrollment growth and the pathway to fiscal equilibrium.” It also offered the campus community “an opportunity to learn about [their] updated approach to new student recruitment and marketing and communications.”

The town hall began with remarks from Dr. Sosulski discussing the current state of enrollment at the College, which was 901 students at the start of the semester. Through new growth tactics such as marketing and the work of the admissions office, the first enrollment goal is 1250 students.

“And there’s a really simple reason for that,” Dr. Sosulski said. “That’s what we’re built for. Presently, we’re built to house about 1250 students, looking at the number of available beds in residence halls, the way our dining hall is set up and constructed, and the way we’re staffed.”

Some of the ways that WC plans to achieve this enrollment goal is through investment in college programs such as innovative academic programs, adding more athletic teams such as golf and track and field, as well as renovating the athletics facilities on campus.

Following Dr. Sosulski, Vice President of Enrollment Johnnie Johnson spoke on the admissions side of enrollment.

For the current admissions cycle “[the College’s] goal is to have about 2,900 submitted apps, but in the future, we need to be pushing towards 3,500 submitted apps,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson’s calculations, the anticipated number of enrolled students for the goal of 2,900 applications would yield around 300 students; whereas, the 3,500 applications would yield 325 students, which would allow for the enrollment growth the college is aiming to achieve by bringing in larger class sizes.

Johnson also discussed ways that admissions markets the College, especially in terms of location. Often, he found while traveling that people did not know where WC was, which prompted implementation of admissions postcards that explain where the College is geographically.

Vice President for Marketing and Communications Brian Speer elaborated more on how the marketing side of enrollment would work moving forward. Similarly, to Johnson, he emphasized the importance of the College’s recognizability.

“Name recognition is critical to us for a bunch of reasons,” Speer said. “Every year when the admission cycle stops, we lose about three quarters of the people we were marketing to because they choose a college, they go off, and they’re never coming back and looking at this again. So, it is important that we build name recognition beyond those groups, so high school counselors, working professionals, families and perspectives, business leaders, political leaders — that’s where we get lasting name recognition.”

Currently, in order to bolster our name recognition, the marketing department is running advertisements on Google, Instagram, and Facebook which all feature the name of “Washington College” prominently.

According to Speer, in addition to these advertisements, marketing is running campaigns for the some of the College’s academic programs such as Biology, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Neuroscience, Physics, Environmental Science, Business Management, Psychology, and Computer Science.

Beyond the marketing campaigns, this year will also begin a new capital campaign for the College.

Vice President of Advancement, Alumni, and Constituent Engagement Susie Chase ’90 P’21 discussed the focus group help for the new capital campaign and what they felt was feasible for the College to focus on in the coming years as it works towards fulfilling the goals of the strategic plan set in 2020.

Overall, Chase concluded that all 41 participants said that a capital campaign was warranted to make these strategic goals a reality.

“I believe with that right focus that anything’s possible for Washington College,” Chase said.

Photo by Delaney Runge

Photo Caption: (Left to right) Brian Speer, Johnnie Johnson, Michael Sosulski, and Susie Chase were the main speakers for the town hall.

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