ST. CLOUD -- Eastman Hall renovations, increasing enrollment and celebrating its community partnerships, St. Cloud State University has come a long way over the past year.

Interim President Ashish Vaidya hosted the 2017-2018 school year Convocation Tuesday morning. The assembly, like years past, focused on what the university has accomplished over the past school year, what goals they have for the next school year and challenges they expect to face in the future.

Taking over quickly for former President Earl H. Potter III after his death, Vaidya says was no easy task. He says being able to see the community, campus and students come together after that tragedy and flourish over the course of the year makes him proud.

"This was not a normal transition but literally everyone sort of picked up and said this institution means so much to us, that we aren't going to let something like this stop our progress. Just seeing that unfold over the year was beautiful to watch."

The creation of the COP House, KVSC celebrating 50 years, Eastman Hall renovations being approved and collaborations being made between St. Cloud Technical and Community College and SCSU are just some of the accomplishments the university made note of during the assembly.

As for goals for this school year, St. Cloud State is expected to start its renovations to Eastman Hall this January, continue to partner with SCTCC and kick off a new enrollment plan to help get more students to make SCSU their pick.

Vaidya says St. Cloud State's 2025 Strategic Enrollment Plan focuses on the entire state not just SCSU. By 2025 the state's goal is to make sure 70% of people have some form a post secondary education, Vaiyda says this is where St. Cloud State plays a huge role.

"If we don't do it, who else is going to do it, we have to do this. We have to help the state get more individuals with highly valued degrees, credentials and certificates beyond high school."

To reach those goals about 150,000 more people in Minnesota will need to have a degree by 2025. Vaidya says the university is still coming up with new initiatives to achieve their enrollment goals but they are already getting started with the basics.

"We have to make sure people understand the different markers, we have to redesign the campus visit experience. We have to rethink our residential life strategy so more people can be engaged in dorms. We have to think about the communication we have with our students both prospective and our current students. And we also have to get people better focused on serving [students]."

The 2018-2019 school year enrollment goals have already been set. Vaidya says for new entering first year students they would like to see an increase of 110 students, transfer students: 30, graduate students: 15 and at least 30 more students choosing to come back to St. Cloud State for their next school year.

St. Cloud State's enrollment numbers for the 2017-2018 school year have not yet been released. The university's total enrollment for last year was 15,092, which was down 2.4 percent from the year before.

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