To start off the forum, Olson noted several recent major institutional accomplishments, including new academic programs just approved by the New York State Education Department, and the successful launch of the “Drive to 75” campaign.
Olson noted that for the last few years colleges and universities across the U.S. have been facing substantial challenges, especially the changing demographics in higher education. Beginning this year, private colleges in New York have also been adversely affected by the state’s new free tuition program for students attending public institutions. He emphasized that in light of these challenges, Daemen has taken several proactive steps to ensure that the college remains a strong and thriving institution.
“We entered this academic year well-prepared to address these challenges, but this year and perhaps the next two will be very difficult as we learn to adjust to a new higher education landscape,” said Olson. “Our high academic quality sets us apart from other colleges, and it is a priority for us to build on this level of excellence.”
When asked about student retention initiatives, Olson pointed to the college’s retention task force, which has had a positive impact on the institution’s retention and graduation rates. Noting that faculty are on the “front line of retention efforts,” he encouraged faculty to help guide struggling students to campus services that promote student success.
Olson emphasized that Daemen’s niche academic programs are key to making the college a stronger, more competitive institution in the Buffalo Niagara region and nationally.
“One of our main goals is to expand upon our existing high-quality programs by developing new programs that are unique to our region and that are of great interest to students,” said Olson. “Growing our distinctive academic offerings will enhance opportunities for students and bolster Daemen as a college of first choice.”