As competition for students continues to intensify across the higher education market, colleges nationwide are compelled to seek new ways to meet the needs of today’s diverse student populations. Institutions that are nimble and innovative are finding new ways to thrive.
Building on Strengths to Reach New Markets
This past December, in a landmark step forward for Converse, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) granted approval for Converse to become a doctoral institution. SACSCOC also granted approval for our first doctoral-level program, the Doctorate in Professional Leadership, which opens this fall and builds upon our long legacy of developing leaders. The 60-hour program provides a terminal degree for professionals in a variety of fields, especially for those in the field of education. Courses include traditional areas such as leadership, management, and personnel theory, as well as innovative topics in entrepreneurialism and legislative decision-making. The program is distinctive in its structure, which incorporates the drafting of the dissertation into coursework beginning in the second semester. Students are encouraged to leverage their dissertation process to seek solutions that have real-world application in their professional lives, providing professional growth and advancement, as well as a benefit to their employer.
A second major initiative aiming to serve new markets began more than a year ago when Converse joined the University Center of Greenville (UCG). Our presence at UCG’s campus opened in July 2018 with the launch of our first program there – the MAT in Early Childhood Education. This summer, we expanded our UCG offerings to include a coeducational under-graduate degree completion program in Business Administration, and this fall, our UCG offerings will grow to include an additional site for our very successful Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program and the Doctorate in Professional Leadership.
“The need to evolve and grow in order to be a strong and thriving institution remains an ever-present reality for Converse.”
“The need to evolve and grow in order to be a strong and thriving institution remains an ever-present reality for Converse,” President Krista Newkirk said. “We are doing this in a manner that is responsive to emerging fields and workforce demands, and with the aim of finding new ways to fulfill our mission that make a positive impact upon our world.”
A cohort of our new doctoral program began preliminary studies this summer. Our Converse International School has infused the student experience with a valuable cross-cultural dimension as female and male undergraduate students from China who came to campus in 2017 to study accounting and medical technology were joined by the first International School music student from Dalian Art College this past year. We celebrated the first graduates of our undergraduate Healthcare Administration program in May of 2018 and welcomed our first graduate students in the new Master’s in Management in Healthcare Management during the 2018-2019 year. Converse just launched a new degree program, Child and Family Studies, which has already attracted a dozen students in Spartanburg. That program will soon expand to UCG.
Major programs of study are complemented by recently added minors and certificate programs that prepare students to be flexible, adaptable, career-ready professionals, such as Interfaith Studies (read more about this program on page 26), Business Professionalism, Arts and Cognition, Applied Computing, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Music Business and Technology.
University Center of Greenville: One Year Later
Dr. Lienne Medford, Dean of Education and Graduate Studies, spearheads Converse’s programs and operations at UCG, which began a year ago this summer. With an eye towards meeting the needs of the greater Greenville market, she says Converse’s current mix of four degree programs that span the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, positions Converse to serve adult students at every stage of their continued learning and career advancement.
The UCG programs have ramped up quickly, surpassing initial enrollment and revenue goals, and must continue significant growth in order to meet long-term enrollment goals.
“The MMFT program’s first cohort for fall 2019 is expected to be full, exceeding enrollment projections.”
“Our new degree completion program began this summer, and we hope to expand it to include additional majors within the next year,” Dr. Medford said. “We will graduate our first students from the MAT in Early Childhood program in December. Our Marriage and Family Therapy program is opening this fall with full accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, which we did not expect to have this soon and is a wonderful accolade for that program’s UCG debut. In addition, the program’s first cohort for fall 2019 is expected to be full, exceeding enrollment projections.”
The greatest UCG success thus far, however, is the doctoral program. “The EdD program is a year ahead of its projected enrollment,” continued Medford. “As of July, Converse had received more than 70 applications between the main campus and UCG, with about 68 acceptances already processed. This puts us in excellent shape to begin this program’s first year at both locations.”
Achieving Long-Term Success
While reaching new markets and expanding Converse’s presence within existing ones is crucial to staying ahead of the curve, other factors also remain integral to our long-term success.
“We hope these changes will have a significant impact on enrollment revenue, but alumni support from current and future generations will always be instrumental to sustaining Converse,” President Newkirk said. “Converse’s long-term health will stem from a mixture of increasing enrollment revenue, sustaining annual giving to support student scholarships and other programs via the Converse Annual Fund, and significantly growing our endowment.”
Originally published in The Converse Magazine.