SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s 2022-2023 school year begins Monday, August 22, with the largest incoming class since 2018. Dr. Kelly Hart, vice president for enrollment management, said Shepherd has been working hard in recent years to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national trend of declining college enrollment.
“We are excited to welcome our incoming class,” Hart said. “This talented class has demonstrated resilience and commitment to excellence during the past two years. It hasn’t been easy, but they persevered. We look forward to supporting them during their Shepherd experience!”
President Mary J.C. Hendrix welcomed the new students during a convocation on Friday, August 19, and said “I look forward to witnessing the extraordinary things each of you will do while attending Shepherd. We are here to help you change the world.”
Students gathered in Ram Stadium for the convocation heard remarks from Hendrix, Dr. Stephen Spencer, provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Dr. Jeff Groff, chair, Department of Environmental and Physical Sciences and 2019 West Virginia Professor of the Year, and Cameron Colwell, Student Government Association president, before heading off to meet with professors in their respective departments.
“I am excited to be a Shepherd Ram because it’s exciting to have new opportunities and new connections,” said Samantha Fridley, a social work major from Shepherdstown. “I’ve always wanted to go to Shepherd because it’s close to home. I love it here. It’s such a nice campus, and it’s so inclusive.”
Brenna Nowlin, a psychology major from Martinsburg, also chose to attend college close to home.
“I’ve always loved Shepherd and I thought this might be an excellent start to my college career,” Nowlin said. “I’m just excited. I love the people. I love the town. This is going to be amazing.”
Abigail Stradley, an English and global studies major from Wheeling, has been on campus for several days as part of the University’s Emerging Leaders in Service program.
“I am so excited for the community of it all,” Stradley said. “Everyone I’ve met has been so kind—all the teachers, faculty, and staff have been so excited for new students to be here and so enthusiastic about any question that I’ve had. The students and everyone here have been so welcoming and affirming and really embrace everyone with open arms. That’s why I’m excited to be here.”
“Being here today and during orientation, I can tell it’s a very good community,” said Carson Green, an environmental studies student from Charleston. “I’m just excited I can get a good education at a place that I’ll be in good hands.”
Shepherd’s increase of incoming students bucks the national trend of college enrollment declines.
“We know that there has been a significant and steady drop nationwide in the proportion of high school graduates enrolling in college after they finish in high school,” Hart said. “As a result, there are fewer prospective students for colleges and universities to recruit.
“Shepherd offers students an exceptional education, both in and outside of the classroom, and is an incredible value,” she added. “Our campus community cares deeply about students’ educational experience and prepares them to succeed at Shepherd and beyond.”
Hart said 64 percent of Shepherd’s incoming class is from West Virginia, while 35 percent will come from out-of-state. The group hails from 15 states and eight other countries, including Gambia, Germany, Mexico, Nepal, Thailand, Cameroon, Liberia, and Australia. Hart said 53 percent of the new students will live on campus during the coming school year, while 45 percent will commute.
In addition, Shepherd is welcoming more than 160 dual enrollment high school students—an increase of 36 percent over last year.
“These are students enrolled in high school who are taking courses at Shepherd University,” Hart said. “By taking these courses, these students will be set up for success and have a head start on their college careers.”