According to Armstrong, it’s no coincidence that the upswing coincides with college president Andrew P. Roth’s stint at the college. A former administrator and professor at Mercyhurst College, Roth signed on as president in 2003.
Taking the helm shortly after Notre Dame College became co-ed, Roth began introducing new academic and athletic programs. These undoubtedly helped to stimulate the changes resulting in continued, consistent growth in enrollment. Roth’s vision was quickly becoming a reality. In fact, Notre Dame College has grown from 335 full-time undergraduate students when he took the helm to almost 850 today, nearly triple the enrollment.
“We’ve managed to do this because we are offering quality programs and have a great enrollment staff,” Armstrong says.
New offerings — including an innovative R.N. to B.S.N. program, allowing registered nurses to earn their bachelor’s degrees in as little as a year and a half (as compared with the more traditional four-year B.S.N. program) — are very popular. Notre Dame has also introduced a four-year bachelor of science in nursing degree for traditional-age students.
“When we looked at the future of Cleveland and the representation of the medical community, we knew that we had to become a part of that,” Armstrong says. Upon learning that other programs had wait-listed students for their nursing programs, Notre Dame decided to “fill that void,” he says. “We wanted to help.”
Diane Jedlicka, Ph.D., was hired to create and head the program, which welcomed 45 traditional pre-nursing students this fall. Her goal is to have 250 traditional pre-nursing students.
But, it was not only the nursing program that put Notre Dame in the spotlight. The college is receiving local recognition for its Academic Support Center (ASC), created for students with learning differences. This innovative curriculum, now in its second year, has 40 students and is designed to support those with documented learning disabilities, including attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. One unique aspect of the program is Notre Dame’s established relationship with the Cleveland Clinic. “They do the goal setting. We are exploring ways to partner with them in different studies,” Armstrong says.
Roth has implemented other changes since his entrance on the scene, athletics and co-curricular activities the most obvious. Women’s golf, lacrosse, swimming and diving and men’s golf, baseball and wrestling are some of the sports added. A new pep band, dance team and an expanded choir are some of the co-curricular activities offered. Next up will be a men’s swimming/diving team, slated to start competing in 2008.
Facilities to accommodate these new additions have been introduced, the most recent being a practice field for men’s and women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse.
It comes as no surprise that increased enrollment translates to a need for more housing. Although Armstrong could not be specific about Notre Dame’s plans, he acknowledges that the college is “looking to do new construction” and anticipates an announcement unveiling plans in the near future.