NMU Hosts Higher Ed Demographics Expert

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Enrollment at two-year colleges and four-year regional institutions in Midwestern states is projected to decline more than 15 percent by 2029, according to Nathan Grawe, author of Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education. Positive enrollment trends are expected to continue for the next few years into the early part of the next decade. But in an effort to better prepare the university for the impending drop in the later part of the decade, NMU has invited Grawe to campus for small-group discussions and a faculty/staff forum on Wednesday, March 20.

“If there’s one thing that affects everyone on campus, it’s enrollment,” said Jason Nicholas, director of Institutional Research and Analysis. “Understanding the demographic trends more than just a couple of years in front of us helps us to think strategically for the future and continue allocating resources in an efficient and effective way long term. Having the author come to talk about his work and about the importance of enrollment forecasting will help to amplify the message we’ve been delivering out of Institutional Research. Nathan effectively breaks down the numbers in a relatable way so non-statisticians can understand the message and begin to use the knowledge for actionable change and planning.”

Nicholas first heard about Grawe’s book at the Association for Institutional Research national conference last summer. He then attended a presentation by the author at the association’s Midwest regional conference last fall.

“We’re trying to localize the messages from his book for NMU better understanding our own trends and where we expect to be in the coming years,” Nicholas added. “We hope to have him help us with that while he’s here. Nathan is one of two innovative thinkers invited to campus recently to help us plan for the future. Provost Schuiling brought Garret Westlake of the da Vinci Center at Virginia Commonwealth University here in January. He led a workshop in design thinking, which was focused on helping different campus units think about delivering their services or academic programs in novel ways. Nathan’s message is one that should serve to motivate the campus community to engage with these workshops and opportunities to better position their units for eventual change.”

The faculty/staff forum featuring Grawe will be held from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in Reynolds Recital Hall. The remainder of his itinerary that day includes a breakfast discussion with community leaders,  a meeting with the Senior Enrollment Management team, lunch with deans and department heads, a presentation and workshop with the Presidents Council and Strategic Planning and Budgeting Advisory Committee, and a meeting with Institutional Research staff.

Prepared By
News Director
February 8, 2019