With graduate enrollment on a long, steady decline and undergraduate enrollment poised to move in the same direction, the board that oversees 17 state colleges and universities is embarking on a $1.2 million study that it hopes can help it reverse the trend.
Maguire Associates, a Concord, Mass., company, was hired last fall by the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education to help the system not only attract students, but make sure they stay through graduation.
"I wasn't here when the contract was (awarded), but I support it," Interim President Philip Austin said.
"We are hoping this will help the individual institutions get a baseline of data as we go forward ... and help stabilize and attract the highest student candidates."
Kim Crone, associate vice president of academic student services at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, expects more.
"I am on the edge of my seat with anticipation with what they will give us," said Crone. "I anticipate good, solid information about enrollment trends, ideal price points and help us know what to expect so we set realistic goals."
Maguire was selected last August, a year after the Board of Regents was formed and two months before the new system's first president, Robert Kennedy, resigned after it was discovered he handed out raises to top system officials without board approval.
Austin, a retired University of Connecticut president who came in while the search for a new president proceeded, said the study will give the new state higher education system useful information and will be prepared by outside professionals without preconceived notions or bias. "Based on their track record, I think it will be money well spent," said Austin. "They will help the new president make decisions on how we can maintain our focus."