With the phrase “It’s all about the numbers” as his backdrop, Lander President Richard Cosentino spoke of numerous successes over the previous year and outlined plans for the course ahead as he delivered his second State of the University address.
Speaking to an auditorium full of Lander students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the local community, Cosentino began his address by summing up the university’s mission. “Lander has only two acceptable outcomes for its students following graduation: they either launch their careers or they advance to graduate school. That’s what we’re all about. That’s the Lander brand.”
Success reflected in enrollment growth and national recognition
Recent indicators that students and their families are responding to the Lander brand can be seen in the university’s record-setting admissions for fall 2017. Applications for admission to Lander increased by 52 percent over the past year, and in August, Lander welcomed 768 freshman students – its largest-ever freshman class and a 26-percent increase over the previous year. Collectively, freshman enrollment at Lander has grown 38 percent over the last two years. At the same time, this fall’s freshman class is also the university’s strongest academically, with SAT scores 50 points higher than last year and an overall grade point average of 3.79.
Also on the rise are Lander’s national rankings. The university climbed three spots in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings, moving from #19 to #16 in the Best Regional Colleges-South category. Lander has risen 48 spots in that category over the past three years. The university also moved from #4 to #3 in the publication’s Top Public Regional Colleges-South list, and earned the #6 spot in the Best Colleges for Veterans-South category.
Additionally, the school has been named a “Best Bang for the Buck-Southeast College” by Washington Monthly, and Schools.com recently put Lander in their Top 5 among four-year colleges and universities in South Carolina.
A robust student experience
Cosentino spoke of the importance of life outside of the classroom for Lander students. “We need to make sure they have a robust student experience beyond the classroom so that they’re well-rounded, know how to work in teams, learn how to communicate and learn about the rest of the world,” he said.
Last year, Lander’s Office of Student Activities hosted 124 events that attracted a collective 17,000 attendees. There are currently 65 events slated for the fall term alone, which have already attracted 5,000 attendees. In addition to events, 20 new student clubs and organizations have been formed on campus, bringing the current roster to more than 80 student organizations.
Other successes during previous year
- Over the past academic year, the university has focused on initiatives outlined in Lander’s strategic plan, which has resulted in a host of significant milestones, such as:
- The creation of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences;
- Expansion of the William Preston Turner School of Nursing;
- Addition of men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s golf teams;
- Campus renovations and enhancements to on-campus dining options;
- Establishment of a Staff Senate;
- Initiation of annual internal audits conducted by accounting firm Cherry Bekaert;
- A 96 percent increase in the number of ROTC cadets; and
- Hiring of new faculty, with more to come.
Still on the horizon
- To continue this exciting momentum, President Cosentino shared plans for the coming year and beyond, such as:
- Themed living communities for students;
- A student transportation system (The Lander Line) connecting the campus with the Greenwood community; and
- Continued campus enhancements, such as the possible expansion of the Grier Student Center and School of Nursing facilities.