Stark Student Center

Briar Cliff University 2021-2022 Enrollment Report

September 23, 2021

Briar Cliff reports strong retention and growth in key markets, in alignment with the university’s strategic plan.

The university reports strong retention of students, noting a 3.5% increase over a 10-year average. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, on average, higher education institutions are experiencing a two percentage point decrease for student persistence in 2020 compared to 2019. 

“We are incredibly grateful and in awe of our retention this academic year. This has been a huge effort of many teams across campus,” shares Dr. Todd Knealing, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. “With the past two years of the pandemic being filled with so much uncertainty for many families, it is inspiring to continue to see academics be prioritized to support their future.” 

Further, Briar Cliff experienced a 35.7% increase of non-athlete, first-time, students in enrollment and nearly 3% increase of student-athletes compared to the previous year. 

“Expanding our student offerings at Briar Cliff has been a critical driver for the university,” shares Matt Thomsen, Vice President of Enrollment. “We had an opportunity to grow our non-athlete population and are thrilled to ensure we have programs across our campus for all students. It is fantastic to see growth in students who choose to focus on athletics, clubs, and organizations – in addition to academics.”

Financial support is a key indicator for students when selecting colleges. Athletic scholarships can provide additional support to help students afford their education, while also providing many other development benefits to the student’s experience. Briar Cliff University’s Board of Trustees wanted to extend similar support to non-athletes, launching a $2 million Promise Scholarship strategically aimed at bridging this financial gap.

The Board of Trustees Promise Scholarship was launched in 2020. The scholarship increases each year to a total award of $29,500. Students who qualify must be a non-athlete, have a minimum 3.0 GPA and 22 ACT, participate in student organizations, and reside in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, or Minnesota.

“We welcome students throughout the US as well as internationally – and we are proud when they choose to call Siouxland ‘home,’” adds Thomsen. “Increasing enrollment from students within our ‘backyard’ has been another focus for the university. Our data indicates these students tend to thrive at Briar Cliff – staying within the comfort of the Midwest while remaining relatively close to home.”

Briar Cliff University also experienced growth within its primary market – the tri-state region. Enrollment within Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota grew 25% within the last three years, another strategic initiative of the university.

Within undergraduate programs, the university experienced increases within declared majors compared to last fall, including Accounting by 81%; Business Administration by 22%; Computer Science by 17%; Kinesiology by 17%; Criminal Justice by 11%; Sports Management by 8%; and Biology by 6%.  

Graduate programs also witnessed notable growth. Compared to the previous academic year, Master of Arts in Management programs witnessed growth, particularly within Leadership by 131.3%, Human Resources by 35%, and Sports Management by 10.8%. Additionally, Briar Cliff’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program grew by 13.7%.

Briar Cliff continues to evaluate and enhance program offerings to align with the university’s mission and community needs. New offerings included a PE Endorsement; new concentrations in Social WorkSpanish, and Theology; new majors in HelpCare™ and Sports Information; the Homeland Security Program; and the Briar Cliff Institute for Leadership & Advancement.

In addition to new academic programs, BCU also enhanced athletic offerings with a new infield baseball turf, dugouts, and indoor training facility; a softball press box; and the addition of an eSports intercollegiate athletic program.

Further, the university completed a $1.3 million cafeteria remodel over the summer.

“Although we have been managing through a pandemic, we continue to persevere and overcome obstacles – and are fortunate to see exciting growth despite these challenges,” shared Dr. Rachelle Keck, President of Briar Cliff University. “I am extremely proud of our students, faculty, staff, and supporters.”

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