Highlights from Western's annual report

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  • Western Colorado University
    Western Colorado University

Goal 1: Strategic marketing and enrollment

• Overall student population continued to grow. Student headcount reached nearly 3,500, a 15% increase from 2018-2019. Salsbury said this is largely due to Western’s partnership with Denver Public Schools to provide concurrent enrollment opportunities.

• The partnership added to Western’s underrepresented student population. The number of students in that group increased from 18.6% in 2018-2019 to over 25% in 2019-2020.

• Graduate program enrollment grew by 17%.

• A website remodel launched July 15, 2020. The site featured new imagery, video content and sections.

• Campus visits were down due to the pandemic taking place in peak visiting months such as March and April. But the university was successful in launching virtual visits and was able to resume them in the summer.

Goal 2: Student academic success

• Graduation rates were the highest in school history for a second year in a row at around 50%. Salsbury said he credits the success to higher retention rates, which have been around 70% over the past few years.

• Salsbury said he also credits retention rates to the growing Experienced Peers Initiating Connections program, which partners a junior or senior to an incoming freshman.

• Most undergraduate programs remain consistent in enrollment numbers. Politics and government, economics and computers science have seen the greatest increases — upwards of 20% — in recent years, with biology and business being the programs that have attracted the most overall.

• The first cohort of Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science and Engineering students began classes in fall 2019.

Goal 3: Student Experience

• 357 students participated in NCAA Division II programs, down 38 students due to spring sports cancelations.

• 100 students took part in Mountain Sports teams, including the launch of a mountain climbing Team.

• Student athletes continued to have higher retention and graduation rates compared to non-student athletes in 2019-2020. In comparison, they found retention rates were 78% and graduation rates were 63%.

• The Residence Life program had to refund or credit $830,000 of rental income to students living on campus following the COVID-19 shutdown. But the program managed to spend minimal reserves, only using $85,000.

Goal 4: Fiscal sustainability

• Gov. Jared Polis allocated $8 million to Western as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

• Over $1.5 million went toward refunds for room, board and mandatory fees. Less than 45% of the amount was utilized from CARES.

• Over $240,000 was spent for COVID-19 adaptations, such as personal protective equipment and computer gear.

• Over $1 million in summer revenue was lost due to the cancelation of sports camps and other programs.

• Despite a turbulent financial year, Salsbury said the university had $1.7 million in positive net revenues.

Goal 5: Community relations

• Faculty and staff served on over 100 boards locally and nationally.

• Employees and students committed over 1,000 hours to volunteering.

• In the spring, 196 Western community volunteers rendered nearly 800 hours for the school’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. day of service.