Fall state of the university address

Jackson LaMarNews Writer
Jackson VolenecReporter

President Joe Bertolino spoke with faculty and staff on Tuesday, Sept 24. in the Student Center Ballroom to discuss some of the university’s shortcomings, as well as review many of the school’s achievements over the past year.

“Even as we are bringing in new students, we are losing the students that we have, and we will never solve our enrollment challenges without improving our retention rates,” Bertolino said.

Bertolino backed this statement of declining enrollment with some examples. As he stated, the retention rate of full-time freshman who enrolled in 2018 is 73.2 percent, which is a “significant dip” from 2017’s retention rate, which was 77.9 percent.

President Joe additionally named some of the new staff members who are focused on improving the school’s retention and enrollment rates in the future.

“We are very fortunate to have the services of three experienced and talented individuals to guide our recruitment efforts as the academic year unfolds,” he said. The main “reality,” he said, is the declining enrollment number that has been on a decline since its peak in 2005. Back then, SCSU had 13,000 enrolled students. Now, the school has dipped under five digits at 9,817 enrolled students.

Bertolino said several other schools in the local New Haven area that were Southern’s competitors are taking potential transfer students from community colleges like Gateway.

These students, Bertolino said are choosing schools such as Central Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac University and University of New Haven over Southern when looking to get their degree.

With all of that said, Bertolino also talked about the good that the university has brought. One of his highlights was sharing a “living history” video, which featured congresswoman, Jahana Hayes, who graduated from Southern in 2005.

Her journey, Bertolino said, saw her come from poverty to Southern to a national teacher award then ultimately, the U.S. congress.

The video highlighted Hayes’s time at Southern and mentioned that she was the first African American woman to represent Connecticut in congress.

The video then transitioned into the Inaugural Staff Award of Excellence. This is an award that gets presented to a group of employees biannually as an appreciation for their efforts “far beyond their job responsibilities” at the university.

Winners of this award included Amanda Mojica, Andrea Carlino, Angela Ruggiero, Francesca Poole, Mary Pat Caputo, Paulette Philson, Renee Knight, Sharon DeCrescenzo, Shirley Anderson and Tonya Nelson.

Other highlights include new buildings: the Obama school that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2020 in the heart of campus. SCSU will break ground for a new academic building for the school of health and human services. Designs are also being made for the new business building.

Bertolino also mentioned the 3000 solar panels down Farnham Avenue, and an extra 600 on Wintergreen garage. To top off solar panels another 2580 panels are being installed on the fitch street garage and 864 panels by the car port in the rear. The money for this project is 100 percent covered by General Electric Company and the Connecticut Green Bank.

There were far too many positive points that Bertolino made that he is extremely proud of, but his speech concluded with the negatives that was mentioned in the beginning. Although there was more positive than negative, Bertolino hopes to turn around the enrollment situation.

Photo credit: Jason Edwards 

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