Morgan stays optimistic about ULV
Posted Sept. 26, 2008
Stephanie Arellanes
Stephen Morgan has served as president of the University of La Verne for 23 years, making him the longest-serving president in the history of the institution. In 1968, near the end of the 20-year term of President Harold Fasnacht, Morgan graduated from La Verne with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences. Morgan endorses plans to rebrand the University and market the school as “La Verne.”


The University of La Verne is in a changing state.

“We're not a small liberal arts college anymore,” Stephen Morgan, University president, said. “Those were our roots.”

Morgan, along with Phil Hawkey, executive vice president, Alden J. Reimonenq, provost, and Homa Shabahang, vice president of enrollment management, hosted a Town Hall Meeting Sept. 18.

Information about current enrollment, budget, semester changes and, building issues and improvements were discussed in the meeting.

“It’s imperative that we maintain, and over time, build enrollment,” Morgan said.

According to statistics provided by Shabahang at the meeting, enrollment in the traditional undergraduate programs at ULV is down 112 students.

Morgan said that the overall state of the University is strong.

“We’re a strong institution, but we certainly can be positively or negatively affected by enrollment trends,” Morgan said.

With a budget that is now affected negatively, the school is preparing to cut back on expenditures.

“We’ve done a lot of budget cutting,” Morgan said. “We look at everything we do and say ‘Do we need to make these expenditures?’”

“I would hope that you as students, would not feel a direct impact,” he added.

Morgan said the school is still waiting for final numbers because student enrollment will not be completed until October.. Further budget cuts will not take place until the beginning of November when the University administrators know how much money the school will have.

“We simply cannot spend more than we bring in as an institution,” Morgan said.

He said the school could be short by as much as $2.5 million.

Shabahang said ULV will reach out to more high school students to help raise enrollment numbers in the future.

Also in an effort to attract more students, ULV is being “rebranded” as “La Verne.”

“ULV really doesn’t mean anything to people outside our campus,” Morgan said. “We thought, why not emphasize La Verne, because it is more descriptive.”

He cited other schools such as the University of Redlands having been successful with the same tactic.

“Yale is Yale, Harvard is Harvard. What is ULV?” Morgan said.

ULV is also “revamping” the school’s Web site and is planning to use text messages and e-mails in an effort to connect with a technologically savvy generation preparing for college.

“Then we have to figure out how to get into your iPods,” Morgan said. “We have to continually update our approach to prospective students.”

Morgan said he hopes that the new plans to reach prospective students make ULV attractive and said he believes they will work. But he ultimately wants those considering ULV to be convinced by the whole package.

“I hope they’ll come to the campus,” Morgan said. “I think that’s where we really sell them.”

The rebranding changes are being made to help the Uni­versity stand out from schools like the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a similar acronym. The rebranding is also being done to make ULV recognizable and known as a university and research institution.

“We don’t want people asking you if you’re going to a trade school,” Morgan said.

“We really need to come together as a community to talk about who we are and what distinguishes us,” Morgan said.

The president said he thinks it is also important for ULV to focus on programs it does well.

He said ULV cannot be too many things to too many people and that the University needs to “focus on what we do best.”

“I think we do photography really well,” Morgan said.

“Do we have programs that are not as good as we think they should be?” he said. He added that there needs to be “focus” and a narrowing of standards.

Morgan said a “pretty campus” and “small classes” are not enough. He said it “has to be about academic quality, achievements/ accomplishments of our faculty” and the “levels of services that we offer for our students to help them be successful.”

Morgan said La Verne is a “midsize comprehensive university,” with a “breadth of majors.”

“La Verne will never be an elitist school,” he said. The president said the University has always done well with “‘A’ and ‘B’ students,” and that La Verne needs to focus on how to “best serve those students.”

“It’s a rapidly changing world,” Morgan said. “We want to do the best we can to prepare you for that world.”

Susan Acker can be reached at susan.acker@laverne.edu.

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