Our changing university and student body (Part 1 of 3)
Last week’s campus Founders Day observance reminded us of how far Purdue Calumet has come in 67 years. But I also would offer that we are a much different university today than we were just five years ago with respect to the students we serve.
Whereas, originally, Purdue Calumet emerged with a mission to provide a post-World War II higher educational outlet for homebound northwest Indiana residents who desired a college education, the state of Indiana has redefined our role.
Focus on producing baccalaureate, master’s degree graduates
As a regional university, we now are focused exclusively on producing baccalaureate and master’s degree graduates, and more of them! Students we also previously served—those pursuing associate degrees and/or needing remedial instruction—attend Ivy Tech State College as the state’s community college system, or another two-year institution.
In addition to having discontinued our associate degree programs and remedial course instruction—the last of our math remedial course offerings will end after this semester—we recently completed a five-year process of incrementally increasing our minimum undergraduate admission standards. We did so to raise the bar of quality in an effort to attract more successful and persistent students intent on earning a Purdue baccalaureate degree at Purdue Calumet.
Residential students, higher admission standards
We learned from research that residential students have a higher percentage of persistence to graduation than commuter students, so we introduced campus housing, which today includes enrollees from across our state, Chicagoland region, nation and world.
Effectively transitioning in that manner has changed our student body in significant ways. Not only do 6 percent of our students come from other nations, but over the last four years, the number of prospective students who have been denied admission to Purdue Calumet has increased from approximately 40 to some 1,200 this academic year. More students also are enrolled in on-line programs, notably in nursing.
Purdue Calumet is a changing university, striving to connect with a more select market of students. Transitionally speaking, though we must deal initially with some bumps in the road, we are heading in the right direction. Additionally, I am confident we can and will succeed in satisfying state and federal mandates to produce more baccalaureate and master’s degree graduates.
(Next issue: How should we target our new Purdue Calumet student body?)
Thomas L. Keon