The university announced a projected slight raise in enrollment for the 2016-2017 academic year at Webster’s home campus.
This year, the university reported the School of Communications, College of Fine Arts and several other undergraduate areas saw growth in enrollment.
Last academic year, a preliminary report released by the university showed a loss of 1,600 students. It was the first year since 2008 the university had a loss of undergraduate students.
As of last year, since academic year 2010, Webster’s combined undergraduate and graduate enrollment had declined by 4,166, or 23 percent. Graduate enrollment had fallen by 3,904 students while undergraduate enrollment had dropped by 262.
The drop in enrollment was coupled with a shortfall of around $7 million.
Webster appointed a new chief financial officer for the upcoming academic year, slated to take over Sept. 11. Ana Karaman joins the university’s administrative staff, after former Chief Financial Officer Greg Gunderson left Webster to take over the presidential role at Park University early in spring 2016.
Stroble said no one administrator will be able to get Webster to where it needs to be financially.
“It takes a team. All of us will be part of the solution for the finances to be in better shape,” Stroble said. “Most of what drives our finances is the academic program. What programs we offer, how attractive they are to students and how enrollment looks. A CFO can’t solve that. The CFO has to be a great team member.”
Stroble said diversity and inclusion, the main theme of this year’s fall convocation, is the crux of almost all of Webster’s challenges.
“You don’t have to go very far to find people are being left out, ignored or excluded from conversations and communities that would be stronger if they included,” Stroble said. “All of those operational things will flow from having the right idea at the outset, which is we all benefit when we all benefit.”