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WSU Sees Enrollment Decline, Increase in Retention

Wright State Campus | Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian

Wright State University (WSU) sees a decline in enrollment numbers with slight increases in retention and graduation rates. 


The census date, or the day the university collects enrollment data for the semester, occurred Sept. 6. 

President Sue Edwards presented the census data results during the Board of Trustees public session on Sept. 17. The total census headcount for Dayton, Lake and Medical students is 11,469. Of those students, 10,264 are enrolled on the Dayton campus and another 1,205 students are enrolled on the Lake campus.

Enrollment is significantly lower than in previous years, including 2020. The total census date headcount for the 2020 academic year rests at 12,234 students, according to the FY 2022 budget presentation presented at the June 18 Board of Trustees meeting. 

The Wright State Guardian reached out to Jennifer McCamis, interim chief recruitment and admissions officer, about factors contributing to lower enrollment rates and received no response.

Retention and graduation

Retention and graduation rates for fall 2021, collected on the census date, are 66% and 44%, respectively. While comparatively low to similar four-year public institutions in Ohio, like Bowling Green and Cleveland State, these rates increase from previous years. 

According to Tim Littell, associate vice provost of student success, the fall 2021 retention rate is up from 62%, and the graduation rate is up from 35%.

Littell did not specify the make-up of this data; however, the U.S. Department of Education catalogs detailed information on these rates. According to the department, of the 6,182 students who start at WSU, 43% transfer to other institutions, 37% graduate, 19% withdraw, and 1% remain enrolled. 

Future plans 

While the university remains ambiguous on the cause of enrollment, retention and graduation data, the administration remains clear on what is being done to increase these numbers.

One of the biggest programs working to increase enrollment is the Campus Completion Plan, formulated by the Alliance for Recruitment, Retention and Completion. This group of faculty members is currently analyzing data and strategies, creating guidance on what university administration should do to increase retention and graduation rates. 

According to Littell, the plan is set to be submitted to the Board Of Trustees in spring 2022 and sent to the Ohio Department of Education in July 2022. 


WSU is undergoing departmental reorganization, merging, retrenchment, and staff and faculty separations, causing concern among the campus community that these efforts negatively affect WSU’s enrollment and retention numbers. 

“We certainly struggled with a number of significant staff cuts and faculty cuts over the past few years. But as we continue to sort of ‘Wright Size,’ these are [part] of the necessary pains to really provide [an] optimal set of resources for the university,” Littell said.

The university plans to continue reorganization and retrenchment. It is unknown how this will continue to affect enrollment and retention data.

Jamie Naylor