Enrollment has been a hot topic over the last few years at Concordia. Although this is the case, the athletic department recruited 39 percent of the class of 2018. The efforts made by the athletic department have provided these athletes with an opportunity to play their favorite sport and get a well-rounded education.
Athletic director Richard Glas was greatly involved in the recruitment process. According to Glas, the athletic department is very committed to making sure protective student athletes understand what Concordia can offer them.
According to Glas, once coaches identify a person who they believe will help the Cobber athletics program, they work with the college reps to get students to Concordia.
“Sometimes the admission representative contacts us to tell us about students,” Glas said. “The amount of contact is crucial to get these kids here.”
This constant contact helped bring in 51 football players in the freshman class. It is the same effort that got John Jones and Jaquer Baker, two sophomore football players from Seattle to Concordia.
Last Spring, Baker visited Concordia when Bill Gates came to Concordia. Baker said, after hearing Gates’s talk, it helped him realize that Concordia’s business department was just what he was looking for.
As the athletic director, Glas understands how important athletic program is in bringing students to Concordia.
“The hook is there because of sports but they find out they can get a great education,” Glas said.
Unfortunately for Concordia, enrollment is a still an issue, but Glas believes it will improve if all of the college’s departments come together. Glas credits the Division of Science and Mathematics at Concordia, and the division’s chair, Dr. Darin Ulness for helping with the recruitment process.
“We are making all kinds of efforts,” Ulness said. “Beyond athletics and beyond music. We get a lot of students interested in both science and in the health professions.”
Similar to Glas, Ulness believes that maintaining contact with prospective students increases the chances of recruiting a new Cobber. However, reaching out to these students is more of a challenge for professors than coaches.
According to Dr. Daniel Biebighauser, the Concordia’s mathematics department has had little contact beyond the scheduled 30-minute departmental visits. In order to increase interest, Biebighauser and Ulness wrote a letter to recruit a student solely based on academic merit. However, the effort was unsuccessful.
Most of Concordia’s athletes decide to come to Concordia because they wanted to continue their involvement in sports. Sophomore mathematics education major Brett Bergeson is one of these individuals.
“When it comes down to it, I picked [Concordia] more for basketball,” Brett said.
Sophomore Casey Bruggeman also appreciated the chance to continue his basketball career while receiving a good education.
“It just worked out well that way,” Bruggeman said. “I don’t think you can differentiate the two.”
Aside from being able to continue playing sports, some athletes including junior Olivia Johnson enrolled at Concordia because of the comfort a small campus brings.
“My graduating class in high school was 21, so I wanted to not be overwhelmed,” Johnson said.
Tackling Concordia’s enrollment issue is not an easy task, but the athletic department has been putting forth their best efforts to make a positive impact. Although Glas understands that private colleges across the country are struggling with the same issue, he hopes students and faculty recognize the impact the athletic department has had on resolving the problem.
“We have to do something about enrollment,” Glas said. “We have to. Maybe that’s something our campus should all get involved with.”