President Olson Addresses Business Leaders

By | June 28, 2023

Daemen University President Gary A. Olson, along with two other local university presidents, participated in a panel discussion on the future of higher education in Western New York during the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday morning.

The conversation centered around the challenges that private institutions of higher education are facing, including declining enrollment, rising costs and student debt, an increase in alternatives to attending college, and state tuition assistance for students who attend public colleges and universities. 

“Between 2004 and 2021, 861 colleges and nearly 9,500 campuses closed permanently,” President Olson told the room of business leaders. 

Academic leaders are also preparing for the looming enrollment cliff, a dramatic decrease in the college-age population due to low birth rates during the Great Recession in 2008, which will also threaten the stability of institutions.   

“The demographic cliff refers to the fact that between 2025 and 2029, the number of college-bound students will decline by over 400,000 in a span of four years, an average loss of 100,000 students per year,” Olson explained. 

When asked how the private sector can support higher education, President Olson suggested internship opportunities and companies partnering with schools to offer employees graduate degrees.