Western to offer new scholarships

Steven Barnum, Assistant News Editor

New and improved programs and scholarship opportunities are on the way to Western Illinois University.

According to usnews.com,enrollment at Western is down nearly 33 percent from the fall of 2013 to the fall of 2018. While that sharp decline has been concerning to many, the Vice President for Student Services believes that the university is heading in a promising direction.

“Western continues to deliver on its mission. We have outstanding academic programs and incredible resources and opportunities for students to succeed at Western Illinois University,” Ron Williams said.

Specifically, the university will be offering new programs in the McCamey Crime Lab in the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. Additionally, the WesternCommitment Scholarship Program has been rebuilt and several online programs will be available for the first time. Jason Woods is the Associate Vice President for Student Services and Interim Director of Undergraduate Admissions and he believes that Western’s initiatives will stand out.

“We are confident that we will see a positive change in enrollment, persistence and completion,” Woods said. “Western has provided outstanding educational opportunities since 1902, and we are restructuring academic programs and resources to meet our goals of attracting and retaining students. We are a leading institution in terms of quality and unique academic programs.”

On Thursday, a college fair will be held on the Macomb campus. Western plans on showcasing its new programs and opportunities to students seeking a college for the fall of 2019. Several other public and private universities will also be in attendance.

While enrollment numbers may be a lingering issue, Western has been encouraged by the increase in academic achievements. In particular, Honors College Dean Rick Hardy believes that there will be over 1,000 Honors students this school year.

Numbers from other categories also suggest academic gains. The average grade point average in the fall of 2017 was 3.22, compared to a 3.31 average from this fall’s students. Last fall, the freshmen had an average ACT score of 20.8, while this year’s freshmen own an average of 21.3. Similarly, more students are participating in Western’s dual enrollment program than in prior years. The program lets kids in high school take college courses to better prepare them for their future in college. Any student who earns a grade point average of 3.4 and higher may be recognized and selected to join the Centennial Honors College. For those looking to get a head start on the application process, students are welcomed to send their ACT scores and GPA to Western in hopes of earlier acceptance. While cost has been cited as a factor in the declining enrollment trend, Western continues to be among the most affordable public universities in the state of Illinois according to collegeillinois.org.

“Our faculty and staff are committed to having a positive impact on our students. We need to impress upon the citizens of this state that Illinois public higher education, particularly WIU, will provide an outstanding education and prepare individuals for a successful future,” Williams said.