By Graham Duncan And Megan Price
More students now call Lander University home than at any other time in the institution’s 150-year history.
Following the first week of the fall semester, Lander’s total enrollment was at 4,107 students, topping last year’s enrollment of 3,825 by 7 percent. It also represents an incredible 52-percent increase since the fall of 2015 – the first academic year under President Richard Cosentino – making Lander the fastest-growing public four-year institution in South Carolina during that timeframe.
“Lander University’s mission is to provide students with an enriching, high-quality and well-rounded educational experience” said President Cosentino. “More students than ever before are choosing Lander, and our record-breaking enrollment growth, year after year, is validation that we are accomplishing that mission.”
“As our University continues to grow and thrive, there has never been a more exciting time to be part of the Lander family,” he added.
Along with a record number of new degree-seeking students, the Fall 2022 figures include a record number of online and graduate students, thanks in part to the establishment of the College of Graduate and Online Studies. Under the leadership of Dr. Lloyd Willis as dean, Lander’s newest academic college has flourished, almost doubling the number of students enrolled in virtual and master’s degree programs over the last year.
“We knew there were opportunities for growth beyond traditional undergraduate enrollment,” said Dr. Todd Gambill, vice president for Enrollment and Access Management. “We placed a strategic focus on expanding graduate and online enrollment, including adding new programs each year that are market-driven and relevant to today’s workforce.”
Willis said students “appreciate the quality, flexibility and affordability that Lander’s graduate and online programs provide,” adding that the University’s student-centered, service-oriented approach is also appealing. “The authenticity that applicants and students feel at every step of the process—from enrollment to commencement—is what sets Lander apart from other institutions.”
Lander’s recipe for success in recent years can be attributed to a blend of many factors. For seven consecutive years, the Board of Trustees has voted to freeze tuition, and Cosentino says this is helpful for students and families who are preparing for the cost of earning a degree. Meanwhile, the addition of innovative, high-demand degree programs and new academic scholarships have played a significant role in attracting more students to Lander. Additionally, articulation agreements with South Carolina’s technical colleges have made it easier for students who begin their educational journey elsewhere to complete their four-year degree.
Underscoring Lander’s commitment to preparing students to meet the demands of the workforce was the South Carolina General Assembly’s most recent investments in Lander’s facilities. For the second year in a row, legislators included over $17 million in new funding for the University, portions of which will fund the construction of a new information commons building that will take the place of the current Jackson Library. Another portion will allow the existing library to be renovated into classroom and laboratory space upon completion of the information commons, affording the University the opportunity to admit additional on-campus students.
Just last year, legislators approved initial funding for a new nursing and health sciences facility on campus, which will allow the University to expand its renowned nursing program to help meet the region’s growing need for highly trained nurses. The building will proudly display Self Regional Healthcare’s name, in honor of the organization’s recent gift to Lander establishing a new scholarship program for nursing students.
“We are indebted to our General Assembly, our dedicated board members, our talented faculty, our supportive staff and our generous donors who work together to ensure our students have the best possible college experience,” Cosentino said. “As we continue to celebrate our Sesquicentennial this academic year, we should also celebrate their hard work at making Lander University the place to be. We’re not done making history at Lander University.”