Growth in online enrollment has been key to growth at the University of the Cumberlands.
“As you know, enrollment is the life blood to any institution. It is the revenue we generate to operate. State institutions go on the state budget and enrollment. We all know how that is going for them, and unfortunately it is not doing so well for our state institutions. A lot of programs are being cut. It is a very volatile time in higher education,” noted Dr. Jerry Jackson, University of the Cumberlands Vice-President of Enrollment and Communications.
“I am very grateful and thankful and blessed to be at the University of the Cumberlands where that is not the case. We are the anomaly right now in higher education because we are thriving and we are growing. We have more and more opportunity to expand. We just have the right business plan and the right leadership right now for us to survive at this very volatile time.”
Jackson was the keynote speaker Tuesday during the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce monthly membership luncheon, which was held at the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center.
“We at the University of the Cumberlands do consider southeast Kentucky our home,” Jackson said. “All of you are part of our immediate regional family. We consider our campus to be an integral part of the region.”
Jackson noted that UC currently has a spring enrollment of 11,821 people, including online enrollment, graduate programs and so forth.
“This is huge for a private, church-related institution in southeastern Kentucky. That is a huge population. We are doing well. We are the fastest growing private institution in the nation,” Jackson said. “We are the largest and fastest growing institution in the state of Kentucky.”
The university knows that academic programs have a shelf life, and it is always looking for what people in our communities need, Jackson said.
The university has seen its enrollment grow from about 4,000 students in 2013 to 10,097 students in the fall of 2017.
The university has built its enrollment with a lot of traditional marketing and social media marketing, Jackson said.
“Our main tool is the Internet and the web,” he said.
If the university has your webpage in its database then school officials can look and see who is looking at which of its webpages, and market to them accordingly.
“I can have counselors immediately contacting these people. If they are looking at us online, we can get in touch with them. It is a little bit of Big Brother,” Jackson noted.
The university’s fastest growing program right now is the executive international program.
“We have an online presence where students from all over the world can come to the United States, live anywhere in the United States, and attend the University of the Cumberlands. We have programs in IT and business that are here just for this population,” Jackson said.
The university has satellite locations in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Cincinnati, and one opening in the fall in Dallas.
Right now over 4,000 students attend these programs at either the masters or PH’D level.
One weekend every term, the students travel to the satellite campuses or main campus to have an intensive residency weekend.
“One weekend every term they show up on one of these campuses to study, and they get enough face to face time in the United States on an F1 student visa,” Jackson said.
Out of the 4,299 students enrolled in this program, 4,182 are from India due to the technology fields.
“Another integral part of the program is they have the opportunity from day one to go work for companies in the United States,” he said.
20 percent of students enrolled in this program do that, and the university has students currently working at Microsoft, Google and Tesla among other companies.
“You name any of the high tech companies and we have students at those companies,” Jackson noted.
The University of the Cumberlands sponsored Tuesday’s luncheon.