New VP Dr. Warren Hilton confronts drop in enrollment

By Laura Quain

In June, Dr. Warren Hilton was introduced by President Hawkinson as KU’s new vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. Hilton plans to bring a recruitment expert from Philadelphia in efforts to add diversity to campus life.

KU has seen a drop in enrollment since last fall. In fall 2015, there were 1,859 full-time freshmen. The fall 2016 number of full-time freshmen has dropped down to 1,691. According to a KU news release, the total enrollment for the university for the 2016 fall semester is 8,513, down 5.4 percent from the 8,979 students of last fall.

Ten of the 14 universities in PASSHE have seen declines in enrollment. According to Hilton, the state schools have been working together to address these drops.

By sharing methods and observing national trends, the universities have developed ways to maintain the quality of daily life on the campuses.


Vice president of enrollment Warren Hilton; Photo courtesy of University Relations

According to Hilton, there is a recent national trend in the drop of enrollment, which can be attributed to a few different factors. One is that the cost of higher education has increased over the past few decades. Another contributing factor mentioned by is that the generation that is entering college is much more averse to student loan debt.

In addition to these national trends, KU recently increased its GPA requirement. According to Hilton, though the enrollment is down, the quality of the students that joined the KU community is the highest it has been since 2008, as declared by the new GPA and SAT requirements. Therefore, in the long run, the university hopes to

have a higher level of retention than it has had in the past.

According to a KU news release, “University retention remained stable for the second year in a row at 73 percent. Minority enrollment continued at an all-time high of approximately 20 percent, making KU one of the most diverse institutions in the State System.”

The increase in academic standards is meant to diversify KU student body. According to Hilton, KU has been working to increase the diversity of campus. He said, “When we have a campus that is diverse, it elevates the academic and life experiences of all students.”

KU has also extended its efforts beyond prospective freshmen students, and has established partnerships with other institutions. These partnerships will target transfer students.

“We’re building partnerships with community colleges to look at the individuals who made the choice to go to a community college,” said Hilton.

These students will be the targets of recruiters due to their decision to forego attending a four-year college or university. These students come from various circumstances. Some may not have been successful in getting into a four-year institution, or wanted the opportunity to save some money for a few years.

KU has also brought in a recruitment expert in Philadelphia, and is expanding recruitment techniques into areas like D.C. and Delaware, with efforts to cast a wider net in terms of enrollment and expand their recruitment geography. “It’s really about two words, student success. What we want to do is bring in students who we know can be successful at Kutztown,” said Hilton.

Not only is KU enrolling students wish assured success, the university plans to help increase the support and comfort that students feel on campus. This years Housing and Residence Life theme is “Ignite your inner Golden Bear.” The university hopes that by encouraging students to become more involved with life at KU, they will return each semester and continue to be success through their graduation.

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