Adrian College one of two higher education institutions in state to report growth in 2020

ADRIAN — A recent survey of schools by the Detroit Free Press shows enrollment in the state’s higher education systems fell by 3%, according to freep.com reporter David Jesse who wrote an article published on October 31, titled, “Michigan Colleges Hit Hard by Dipping Enrollment — Except 2 that Reported Growth.”

Despite the drop in the state’s overall enrollment, Adrian College (AC) was one of two private or public colleges or universities to post overall enrollment growth, Jesse reported in the exclusive “for subscribers” story.

“The drop occurred at all levels from the state’s biggest public universities to the smallest rural public colleges,” Jesse wrote. “In total, the state lost more than 9,500 students from last year. Seven private colleges contacted by the Free Press for enrollment numbers did not respond, or said that because of how they ran their semesters, the numbers were not yet available.”

Adrian College reported its highest enrollment ever this year with 1,865 students. A large incoming freshmen class of 602 new students helped set the new record. Graduate enrollment is at a record level this year, as well, with 82 registering to earn a master’s degree.

For the past three years Adrian College has easily surpassed 1,500 enrolled students with 1,688 in the fall of 2017, 1,862 in the fall of 2018 and 1,818 in the fall of 2019.

Frank Hribar, vice president for enrollment and student affairs at Adrian College, said his staff was able to recruit many of those new students this year because AC President Jeffrey Docking was determined to offer in-person classes on campus.

“We understood students preferred to be educated in as normal a fashion as possible and we were able to provide that in-person opportunity this fall,” Hribar said. “We’ve landed at this enrollment gain because of a combination of great deployment. Great deployment related to our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, face-to-face instruction, social distancing protocol, and our student athletes being able to participate in competitions, even in the fall, in combination with an expanding academic portfolio, and all of the innovative structure that we’ve placed around campus has landed Adrian College as a U.S. News and World Report ranked Most Innovative School. All of those things combined are what placed us in this enviable position.”

Adrian College was ranked second this year by U.S. News and World Report as a “Most Innovative School, Regional College Midwest,” for making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.

Hribar explained that Adrian College did extensive testing for COVID-19 before the fall semester started and everyone, whether they had symptoms or not, was tested. He said the College had purchased and used more than 2,500 COVID-19 tests and just made another order at the cost of $100,000 for an additional 1,500 tests to continue testing on campus.

All of the testing made it possible for Adrian College to be the first college in Michigan to compete in football this year. The Bulldogs played three football games in 2020. In addition, Adrian College competed in bass fishing, cross country, hockey, soccer, volleyball, tennis, and now with a new season just starting, basketball, equestrian and wrestling.

“We didn’t have to test everyone before the start of the fall semester,” Docking said. “We were not mandated to do so. We did extensive testing because we wanted to do everything possible to keep this virus from spreading once students arrived.”

Docking said the investment was preventive medicine and well worth the cost for the safety of his students.

“Had we not required testing before arrival and completed 2,751 tests to date, that virus could have run rampant,” Docking said. “It would have been difficult to tell how many were infected with COVID-19 if we hadn’t tested both symptomatic and asymptomatic students.”

For more information about Adrian College or to read its COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, visit Adrian.edu.