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NSU battles back against low enrollment

by Mahogany Waldon

With the almost imminent closure of various Historically Black Colleges and Universities due to low enrollment and financial downfall, Black colleges across the nation are doing what they can to improve admission rates; Norfolk State is no exception.

The university’s “First View” program will begin on April 18 and will give prospective students an opportunity to visit the campus. Despite the “First View” program, Norfolk State will not only have to compete for admissions, due to the fact that they are an Historically Black college, but also due to the fact that they are one of the schools that has struggled this past year. In December of last year, news went out that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the university on a twelve month probation. The university is now faced with the task of finding new incentives to gain students in wake of its earlier setback.

Regardless of the probation, students and faculty alike still maintain a degree of pride throughout campus that things are definitely improving. The university is also continuing to defy the odds on a national scale. The Norfolk State University Honda Campus All-Star Challenge quiz team advanced to the semifinal round at the annual HBCU National Quiz Championship this year and Dr. Mikhail Noginov, a professor in the Department of Physics, was named a Virginia Outstanding Scientist by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The university is also growing its Living Learning Communities program that allows students to be engaged with their peers on and off campus.

Dr. Andrew Arroyo of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies provided research this year at the university’s Undergraduate Research Symposium on Historically Black Colleges and the non-black students that attend them. To some, his research may be surprising due to the fact that most people associate Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with the Black community. This assumption, while valid, is not always the case. The idea of opening HBCUs to non-black students has been an ever-present matter since the founding of many schools of color.

According to Dr. Arroyo “the latest research demonstrates that HBCUs are excellent choices for all students, regardless of race. It’s also critical to remember that HBCUs have never discriminated against any populations. That’s part of what makes HBCUs unique. We have no history of segregation or discrimination. So, it’s important to be clear that we are open to all students, and we always have.”

When it comes to improving admissions at Norfolk State specifically, Dr. Arroyo ensures the university is on the right track and is taking “new initiatives geared towards the continuous improvement of admissions,” but he believes it’s the students who are on the front lines of the battle for admissions.

“Students themselves can move the needle on admissions numbers probably more than any other group of stakeholders,” Arroyo said. “Take pride in your institution. Influence friends and family to become Spartans. Wear your school gear and colors with pride everywhere you go. Bleed Green and Gold. Determine to be a cut above. Make people in your circles of influence want to be like you. Give them reasons to look up to you. Then, when the time is right, tell them about NSU. If each student recruits just one person, the entire landscape of NSU can be transformed. We owe it to the brave founders of this institution, we owe it to future generations who will need this place, and we owe it to ourselves.”