It’s sure to be another great year at Kansas Wesleyan as the university readies to start the 2023-24 academic year. New student move-in concluded on Wednesday, Aug. 9, wrapping up a process that brought more than 400 new Coyotes to campus for the beginning of orientation. That group is part of the largest overall enrollment in KWU history, as more than 950 students are expected to be a part of the Coyote pack.
“It’s a great time to be a Coyote,” said Dr. Matt Thompson, KWU president. “Many universities wait decades to reach moments like this, moments where they become destination institutions. We are on the brink of such a moment, as more and more students come to understand that KWU is the place to be.”
An enrollment of 950 students would be the largest in KWU’s 136-year history, surpassing what is believed to be the second-largest (897 in 2005-06) by more than 50.
Looking closer at the numbers, KWU would be up 13% in full-time undergraduate enrollment in just one year, and more than 30% in that category since 2019. That growth rate is one of the top marks in the Midwest – among any university, public or private – during that time. Finally, it puts KWU within striking distance of one of its long-term goals, becoming a 1,000-student institution.
“This success is a testament to the hard work of many,” said Ken Oliver, executive vice president of advancement and university operations. “Recruiters, university leadership, faculty, staff and current students all play a role, and everyone has come together and laid a tremendous foundation for success.”
Enrollment numbers will become official early in the fall semester.
KWU’s construction efforts will begin to come to fruition, as the Music Department is expected to move into its new academic spaces prior to the spring semester. Sams Chapel efforts are close behind. Painting began on the houses in Coyote Village in July, and students are expected to move into the small dwellings this January. Wilson Hall, one of KWU’s existing residence halls, saw significant updates to furnishings during the summer, as well.
As a result of the construction, numerous university departments have adapted to support students. Music will hold concerts in venues across the region and is in discussions to perform with high schools across the state at their respective locations. Small portions of existing housing have been reconfigured to support the student growth, while a group of students will live – at no additional cost – in a local hotel until Coyote Village is completed this spring.
“A lot of institutions say that they prioritize students, and many do,” said Oliver. “However, with the work that has taken place this summer, KWU has backed up those words. Whether it’s been Music, Plant Operations, Student Development or another department, many different groups have gone above and beyond to adapt. They have done it all in support of our students and in support of allowing those students to have tremendous experiences.”
Athletics will, once again, look to defend its KCAC Commissioner’s Cup crown when its season gets underway with a women’s soccer contest Aug. 23. The department has drastically increased its reach, thanks to this fall’s launch of the Coyote Radio Network. The network is a seven-station agreement with Eagle Radio that will reach into as many as four states.
The department also launched a new website, as KWU partnered with industry leader SIDEARM Sports for a new KWUCoyotes.com.
Community support has always been critical to the success of Kansas Wesleyan, and the present is no exception. Marshall Motors and Mahaska announced expansions of their partnerships with the university, with Marshall gifting KWU three vehicles and Mahaska agreeing to become the title sponsor of KWU’s Scholarship Gala. More partnerships, new and expanding, will be announced in the coming months.
KWU will continue to give back to the community, with support planned for numerous school districts within Kansas, including USD 305 in Salina. The university also supports several nonprofits, including the Smoky Hill Museum, the Love, Chloe Foundation and Rolling Hills Zoo.
Finally, success in academics continues across campus. The Social Work Department is celebrating its recent accreditation, as it became the third KWU program to earn program-specific accreditation from a national body (with Nursing and Teacher Education). DECA will look to hold its place as one of the world’s top programs. Several new music faculty, including Wendy Stein, Jake Montoya ’05 and David Corman, will provide tremendous mentorship and leadership to a growing department.
“So many individuals, businesses and groups have supported Kansas Wesleyan these past five years,” said Thompson. “We are on this stage as one of the fastest-growing universities in the Midwest because of our supporters, and we are truly grateful. We can’t wait to see what’s next for our university!”