Bursting at the Seams: Lander breaks enrollment records
Friday, Sep 06, 2019

An insightful combination by Lander University officials of developing and investing in market-driven academic programs that mirror the needs of today’s fast-paced and evolving workforce has resulted in a measurable trend that now has the campus bursting at the seams.

With enrollment for the 2019-20 academic year totaling 3,227 students at the conclusion of the first week of classes – a 5.6% increase over last year – the university now has the largest enrollment in Lander’s 147-year history. Freshman enrollment continues to break records, with three consecutive years of increasing growth. This year’s freshman class – 944 students representing 22 states and four continents – is an approximately 8.5% increase over last year, and a nearly 70% increase since President Richard Cosentino’s arrival in 2015.

Lander University’s athletics program is also bigger than ever, with the addition of three new varsity NCAA Div. II teams – men’s and women’s lacrosse, and wrestling. Each begins competition this academic year.

And along with more students in the classrooms, there is a record number of students living in Lander’s residence halls, as well. With approximately 1,741 on-campus residents, Lander’s 10 residence halls are at nearly 99.5% capacity.

Over the summer, the University worked to prepare for the influx of students, including adding two additional parking lots on campus, and expanding the campus dining hall with additional seating.

“What this clearly says is that Lander University is in high demand. Students want to come here – they are interested in our high-quality academic programs, our vibrant student life, and the great career opportunities that Lander offers,” said Dr. Cosentino. “The record growth and success that Lander University is experiencing is the result of hard work and dedication on the part of our faculty and staff. They believe in Lander’s mission, and they are fully committed to our strategic plan, which focuses on providing exceptional academic opportunities and outstanding student experiences to prepare graduates for life after Lander.”


Making good on a promise for success

Since beginning his leadership as president at Lander in 2015, Dr. Cosentino has consistently stated that the only acceptable outcome for the university is for its students to either launch their careers or advance to graduate school following graduation.

In making good on that promise, Lander’s leadership has remained committed to addressing challenges felt by many students and their families.

Part of that commitment is affordability. To help students better understand and prepare for the cost of a college education, Lander’s Board of Trustees voted in 2016 to lower and freeze tuition, paired in following years with frozen general fees and housing, making Lander one of the most affordable higher education choices in South Carolina.

Additionally, Lander has identified, developed and invested in market-driven and high-demand academic programs that will best position students for success following graduation. Referred to as Lander’s signature programs, they are:

  • Biology
  • Criminology/Criminal Justice
  • Cybersecurity
  • Exercise Science
  • Financial Services
  • Government Administration
  • Health Care Management
  • Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Management/Marketing
  • Mass Communication
  • Nursing
  • Pre-Professional Programs
  • Psychology
  • Teacher Education

On-deck are additional academic programs that are pending approval from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Those include baccalaureate programs in: Design, Graphic and Interactive Media; Health Promotion and Wellness; Human Services; and Paralegal Studies. Graduate programs in art education and visual art have been proposed, as well, and are in the process of review. Expansions to current minors in cybersecurity and sports management are also being explored.

Impact on Greenwood community
With the tremendous population increase in Lander students, and the additional faculty and staff who have been hired to guide them, Greenwood and the surrounding region are likely to experience a significant economic impact from the University’s record growth.

Community involvement and awareness are long-held hallmarks of the Lander student experience, and the freshman class spent a week in August being introduced to the campus and the surrounding city. The “Launch into Lander” series included tours of Uptown Greenwood, allowing students to explore restaurants and businesses in the Uptown district.

And in late August, 66 Greenwood-area businesses and nonprofit organizations introduced themselves to Lander’s more than 3,000 students by offering samples of their products and taking applications for much-needed part-time employment.

“Our students consistently say they feel at home on our beautiful campus and that they love Greenwood. They are engaged in the local community,” said Dr. Cosentino.