On the heels of three straight years of enrollment growth for the University of New Orleans, President John Nicklow cited promising indicators for continuing that trajectory in fall 2021 during his spring State of the University address. Nicklow delivered his remarks in an empty University Center ballroom and the video was shared electronically with faculty and staff.
“We have been tested in so many ways over the past year,” Nicklow said. “But I am proud of the determination, compassion and creativity that each of you has demonstrated in the face of so much adversity.”
Applications for the fall 2021 semester are up by 8% compared to the same time last year and the number of admitted students has increased by 23%, according to Nicklow. He said the biggest gains are in the number of graduate student and transfer student applications and the number of admitted freshmen.
“The number of (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) filers and scholarship recipients, combined with the incoming freshmen who have already signed up for our first orientation program point to another strong freshmen class in the fall,” he said.
Nicklow pointed to continued momentum with the University’s research activities and fundraising efforts—UNO raised $9.5 million in 2020, a 35% increase over the previous year. Much of that money is earmarked for student scholarships. He also highlighted the institution’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Nicklow said during the current academic year, UNO conducted its first-ever climate survey to solicit personal perspectives from employees and students, held a Courageous Conversations series with faculty and staff, and is rolling out professional development on effective intercultural navigation.
Nicklow also summarized the University’s response to COVID-19 and mentioned the updated spring 2021 UNO Compact, a statement of mutual commitment to community health and behavioral standards, which emphasizes the importance of regular testing and getting vaccinated when eligible.
“I’m sure many of you have questions about what the fall semester will look like,” Nicklow said. “We believe that it will resemble more of a traditional college semester.” He said that if the vaccine rollouts proceed as he hopes, the University will try to maximize in-person instruction and resume many traditional activities and events with appropriate protocols in place.
Nicklow closed by saying that the University has learned so much over the past year and it will take some of those lessons and continue to put them into practice even after the pandemic has passed.
“I’m talking about things like flipped classrooms, being more accessible to remote populations and certain aspects of teleworking, and those are just three examples,” he said. “I believe that challenges make us stronger and smarter if we take the time to learn from them. And as we have shown throughout our history, the University of New Orleans community is resilient and determined. That has been particularly apparent over the past 12 months.”