University of Valparaiso vice president of enrollment, marketing and communications resigns | Wbactive

VALPARAISO — Brian O’Rourke, Valparaiso University’s vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications, is resigning, according to university officials.

University spokesman Michael Fenton said O’Rourke will stay until April and the university is in the early stages of finding his replacement. Fenton said the university discussed the opportunity with a small number of outside candidates, mostly from Indiana and Illinois.

“I would like to fill the position with someone who has demonstrated success in enrollment management at an institution of similar size and identity to Valparaiso University,” University President José Padilla said in an emailed statement. “You must have Midwestern shoe leather recruiting experience, be knowledgeable in undergraduate, transfer and graduate admissions, and have a strong ability to interpret and respond to the most advanced data analytics available to enrollment management professionals stand. Our next Vice President will be ready to take on the challenges, build on the opportunities, and accelerate the momentum we’ve created in our ongoing recruitment efforts. You will bring creativity and energy to the role and be fully committed to Valpo and the objectives outlined in our new strategic plan.”

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The resignation comes amid declining enrollments and the closure of several degree programs, both of which predate O’Rourke, who assumed the role in June 2021, but have been pervasive throughout his tenure.

According to data available on the university’s website, Valparaiso University’s undergraduate enrollment at the start of the 2022 fall semester was 2,964. This was a slight increase from Fall 2021, when the university had 2,939 students, but overall that number has been steadily declining since Fall 2015, when it stood at 4,544.

Valparaiso’s retention rate for freshmen returning in 2021 was 77.3%, according to university data. That’s the lowest level since at least 1991, the earliest data the university provides.

In addition, the university has discontinued a number of programs to cut costs, including secondary education majors, theater majors and minors, Chinese minors, French majors, Greek and Roman studies majors and minors, and law school, reporting from The Times .

Graduates from Valparaiso University participate in the opening Sunday. President Jose Padilla spoke to students about their time at Valpo.

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Faced with these challenges, Padilla launched a new strategic plan for the university earlier this fall.

That plan includes increasing enrollment through programs like Access College, which offers students a two-year associate’s degree that officials hope will encourage students to pursue a four-year degree; expanding its online education division; and accreditation as a Hispanic Serving Institution under the Higher Education Act, a move officials hope will attract Hispanic students.

The plan also envisages higher revenues, which the university hopes to achieve by increasing net tuition income per student by 10% over five years; sale of non-core real estate; and more aggressively soliciting donations to his foundation.

O’Rourke did not respond to the Times’ invitation to comment on the story.

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