Widener University: Focus on Student Experience, Growth, Not Mergers

David Bjorkgren
Widener University President Julie Wollman focuses on the student experience
Image via Widener University.

Widener University is preparing for its first in-person semester in more than a year by enhancing the student experience, writes Kennedy Rose for Philadelphia Business Journal.

The preparation comes as many universities deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student retention and finances.

Several have considered merging with other universities to survive.

That was not an option at Widener University, according to its president, Julie Wollman.

Wollman sees a post-COVID Widener that stays relevant and keeps growing.

Widener is focusing on agility and a great student experience.

“It doesn’t mean that you build more climbing walls,” Wollman said. “In fact, we’re taking down our climbing wall.”

Instead, new programs in life sciences, where worker demand is high, will drive the great experience.

Other momentum-building ideas?  Make Widener as easy to attend as possible. Reduce the bureaucracy that hampers student studies.

Widener enrollment dropped in 2020 with students weighing college benefits in an economy starved by the pandemic and classes taught online.

Wollman wants professors, staff and peer mentors to reach out to students.

 “Everyone works in retention at a university,” Wollman said. “Everyone’s job is to make sure students are successful.”

Read more at Philadelphia Business Journal about Widener’s plans.