Earlier messages discussed the “Perfect Storm” facing the higher education sector and the enrollment growth most of Virginia’s big public universities enjoy despite those challenges. So, how are they doing that, exactly?

To a large degree, they are driving their enrollment growth by leveraging new academic programs created over the past decade, as you can see in the graphic attached to this message.

Half of the ten programs with the fastest-growing majors at the University of Virginia were created within the last decade. That’s true of four of the ten fastest growing programs at both Virginia Tech and George Mason University. Further, Old Dominion University’s top ten growing majors include three recently created programs. 

VCU, meanwhile, has created virtually no new baccalaureate degree programs with appreciable growth over the same period. In circumstances where we have market-relevant programs that match what’s offered at the other universities they have yet to reach their full potential to drive enrollment at VCU.

That brings us to the questions before the One VCU Academic Repositioning Task Force

  • How can the university’s academic enterprise be shaped to fuel a robust pipeline of exciting new programs?
  • How can VCU’s academics be reconfigured to engage students with hands-on opportunities that are more exciting, future-focused, and relevant to their life and career aspirations?
  • How can VCU’s academic enterprise better support our creative and collaborative faculty members in their work to fully implement the university’s strategic research priorities of enriching the human experience; achieving a just and equitable society; optimizing health; and supporting sustainable energy and environments?

VCU has unique strengths and faculty with an unlimited capacity to innovate. It was no accident when National Science Foundation (NSF) director Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan said VCU’s ability to advance science and innovation, and do so inclusively, makes it one of America’s universities that “matter for the future” during a campus visit this year. We need an academic enterprise that leverages those things we do well and helps us do them more.

Do you have questions, comments, or thoughts about the work of this task force? We’d appreciate it if you would share them with us. Please send us a message at repositioning@vcu.edu.

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