ANGOLA, IN - Though the past 18 months have been "an extremely tough, frustrating and challenging environment" for higher education, Trine University President Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., said Trine University continues to flourish.
"Our enrollment and retention unexpectedly shattered all projections and records last year," he told university faculty and staff on Tuesday. "In another week, we expect yet another record class for this fall, along with maximum housing capacity, even after the completion of the new Fabiani Residence Hall."
Brooks presented an updated state of the university in the T. Furth Center for Performing Arts, part of Trine's annual fall kickoff event on Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Welcoming employees to the event and introducing Brooks, Gretchen Miller, vice president of administration and chief of staff, presented highlights Trine University has seen over the summer, including:
Trine alumnus Joe Schroeder representing the USA in the Olympics; The university recognized with an Innovation in Education award by Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly; National recognition for the TrineOnline criminal justice program and Trine's Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter; The pinning of Trine's first RN-to-BSN graduates; Accepting applications for Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, scheduled to launch in fall 2022; Completion of Fabiani Residence Hall on time and on budget; and, The beginning of construction on the $12.5 million Steel Dynamics Inc. Center for Engineering and Computing.
Brooks opened by telling Trine employees the university owes them a debt of gratitude for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Noting that many higher education institutions have slashed programs and staff due to declining enrollments, Brooks said he was "very proud" Trine has continued to provide salary increases, bonuses and incentives.
"We clearly have an advantage over most competition and have excelled regionally in attracting more than our fair share of the market," he said.
Brooks said Trine benefitted from enhanced revenue this past year thanks to factors including increased enrollment and successful fundraising. The university also had lower expenditures due to the cancellation of multiple events.
As a result, Trine University was able to invest more in its endowment, which now totals more than $51 million.
"We are stronger today than we were when the pandemic began," he said. "We continue to expand and enhance our campus. And our financial position has never been better."
Its strong position presents multiple opportunities for the university, Brooks said.
"We hold the power to determine the best future of this institution and provide even greater value to our students, our employees and to business and industry," he said. "We can become even more essential to this community. And this requires us to continue with an aggressive plan for our future."
Brooks outlined areas of focus for future planning, with projects already underway in some areas. These include:
Building on enrollment and retention; Launching a new capital campaign; Exploring new academic programs; Expanding existing facilities and adding new facilities to the main campus, including a new entrance to the west; Consolidating Trine University's Fort Wayne operations; and, Exploring opportunities to expand into new geographic areas.
"We are poised to enhance and expand our position in higher education and need to seize upon this opportunity," he said. "We went into this past year from a position of strength, and I believe going forward will maintain and build on our position and reputation as a regional leader."