Cheyney University, the historically Black educational institution in Pennsylvania, has experienced a steep drop of 38 percent in enrollments this fall. This follows the trend of continuing decreases in enrollment across all Pennsylvania state-run universities over the last eight years. Enrollment at all 14 institutions in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education totaled 98,094 this fall. This is the first year enrollment dropped below 100,000 since 2001.
According to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Cheyney’s total enrollment dropped to 469 students this fall compared to 755 last spring. Recently, the university has experienced financial troubles and suspension of its participation in NCAA Division II athletics.
However, despite these issues, university president Aaron A. Walton is not worried about Cheyney’s future. According to President Walton, 566 students have applied for admission next fall, 124 of whom have already been accepted. This semester, 100 first-year students were admitted out of just 136 applicants. He believes that this recent drop in students is due to Cheyney’s current admissions standards, which are “the highest they have ever been.” In August, the university announced the creation of the Institute for the Contemporary African-American Experience, which resulted in the university increasing its admission standards.
President Walton said that “as we raise our standards and become a little more selective, we realized that we were going to lose some students.” Last spring, Cheyney experienced a 26 percent drop in “unsatisfactory performance” among the first-year class, and improvements in academic performance were also seen among upperclassmen as well.