By Noah Thomasson
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
Last weekend, Niagara University celebrated the acceptance a few incoming Purple Eagles – those who belong to the Class of 2027.
Advertised on both the Niagara University website (www.niagara.edu) and the social media page (@niagarauniversity), the university highlighted high school seniors, those not part of the early college decision that took place in early November and December.
Attracting the interest of students and their families is not an easy task or job, but the university and staff have committed to consistent advertisement of the campus and what it offers, as well as announcements regarding the updates and status of the campus.
One of the updates and additions to the campus’ programs is Niagara University Opportunities Program (NUOP).
“NUOP is targeted toward providing African-American students – who may have financial difficulties within their families or who come from different, adverse circumstances – an opportunity to pursue higher education,” said Kiman Baldon, head director of NUOP.
“Our goal, as a program, is to provide support to students of color. Be it support financially, socially and emotionally, as they take on the challenges of adjusting to life in college,” Baldon said.
The university and its programs do not want to only attract students, but they want students to commit and stay with the university throughout their years of higher learning.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had students not stick it out, choose to transfer, or just not finish school,” Baldon said. “I don’t fault them for it. I look at us, as a university and program, and try to find ways on how we can improve and make the experience better for our students; encouraging them to stay with us.”
Given that these particular issues are likely to happen on any campus, what type of improvements can be made to make Niagara University different? How can a predominantly white institution (PWI), attract students of color and sustain those same students?
“Creating a community is huge,” Baldon said. “NUOP, in particular, offers a summer program where students can connect with one another while taking summer courses for the upcoming semester.
“We do activities that encourage bonding and relationship-building; all of which help create a community for the students of color we attract, with the hopes of getting them to feel comfortable about the university and our program we provide.”
What attracts a student and keeps them engaged and involved in the university?
Talking to a student who is part of NUOP, Jonnouy Powers, he spoke on the importance of community and support from the program(s) and the university.
“As a black student on campus at a PWI, I was nervous at first, but NUOP really helped me find my footing on campus,” Powers said.
It’s about belonging and coming together for the overall success of achieving higher education.
“I felt like I belonged,” Powers said. “Being part of NUOP gives me a chance to be around people who look like me and who are coming from similar circumstances and backgrounds that I am coming from.”
Niagara University is a smaller school. On average, the school has 2,700 students enrolled. Given that it is a private university, more financial aid and assistance can be given out.
What else does the school have to offer? It’s a smaller campus, which can lead to more engagement of all students. The university is a Division I program, meaning the athletic teams compete at the highest level in collegiate sports.
The location of the campus also is near notable attractions: Canada and the Falls. These attractions lead to interest from future families and future students who may choose to be a part of the university for years to come.
Social media and commercial advertisements play a part in the success of attracting students and families. The advancement of advertising allows for a wider reach to an audience that is targeted or may not be targeted.
“Just through the advertisement of the university itself, I could tell that there is a community feel and level of engagement of the people on the campus,” said Tony Wright, grandfather of an enrolled student on the Niagara University campus.
The job of catching the attention of future Purple Eagles is mainly accomplished through advertisement.
“They (Niagara University) do a good job of reaching people and reeling people in, not to mention the different programs they offer academically and in general,” Wright said.
Is it effective in attracting people and students?
“Absolutely,” Wright said.
Programs play a role in attracting people to the university. This relates to athletes choosing to play for the sports programs and students choosing to be a part of the school long-term.
“We want to provide the school with a better mix of diverse students, not just through athletics, but by also capturing that same diversity in the academic student body. That’s what we (NUOP) are here for,” Baldon said.
Still accepting students, Niagara University is striving to attract new students through advertisement and through additions of new programs that engage and attract new students.
This is a Niagara University student-created piece completed as part of the course CMS 226A. For more information, contact the Niagara Frontier Publications’ managing editor.