Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson gave his annual university address in the Student Center ballroom on Sept. 12.
Wilson spoke about the 2016–2021 strategic plan, which includes increasing the six-year graduation rate, increasing total enrollment to 30,000 and eliminating gaps in graduation and retention.
Wilson was introduced by Abdulrahman Harris, president of Student Senate. Harris noted many of the university’s recent accomplishments, such as the current freshman class being the largest in WSU history and the new Mike Illitch School of Business building, and attributed these successes to Wilson being a “man of action.”
“This fall, we are welcoming the largest group of full-time freshman in our 150-year history,” Wilson said. “It’s getting crowded on campus. Some of that is because there are more students on campus, and that’s not on accident — it’s part of our strategic plan.”
In that plan, the goal is to increase enrollment to 30,000 students by 2021.
The increase is 15 percent more than last year’s freshman class. Community college transfers have increased by 7.1 percent, said Wilson.
“Last year we saw a big drop in international students,” Wilson said. “But this year we’ve reversed the trend and new international students are up 3.5 percent over last year.”
Wilson also addressed the Warrior Way Back program, which now has 43 students participating, that allows past WSU students who left the university with debt and no degree to re-enroll and “relieves [their] past student balances,” the WSU website states.
Wilson focused on graduation rates, sharing that the African-American graduation rate has more than doubled over the last six years. The six-year graduation rate — which is now about 47 percent — has increased 19 percentage points over the past six years, Wilson said.
“One of our key priorities in the strategic plan is to increase the six-year graduation rate to 50 percent, and we’ve made headline-worthy progress toward this goal,” he said. “We believe this is the fastest improvement of six year graduation rate of any major college or university in the nation.
Brianna Jones, a masters candidate in communication studies and graduate of the WSU undergraduate class of 2018, said that since she’s been at WSU, “there’s been changes to the campus, there’s also been changes to the city. As the city grows, the university grows with it.
“When I came in there wasn’t too much going in; things were kind of outdated, the technology was outdated,” said Jones, who works with the university television. “They definitely brought in some more experienced people and faculty to the university. It’s grown as a whole.”
“While we’ve had much to celebrate and reflect on this year,” said Wilson. “I don’t want us to lose track of our 2016–2021 Distinctively Wayne State University Strategic Plan.”
Amal Rass is features editor of The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo by Jonathan Deschaine.