State University of New York at Fredonia (Fredonia)

Location: Fredonia, NY


A comprehensive, public, liberal arts university in Western New York, Fredonia serves more than 4,600 students on its beautiful residential campus that blends intimate learning with a wide range of academic programs. In 2015, Fredonia contacted AACRAO Consulting to guide them through the process of taking a more strategic approach to its enrollment efforts. Beyond improving enrollment numbers, Fredonia wanted to align enrollment with the university’s overall vision and mission.


Fredonia had a strategic plan in place; however, it did not include any cohesive or complementary strategies around enrollment. After multiple years of decline in enrollment  numbers, the university knew it needed to reassess the way it was approaching recruitment and enrollment. To date, the university had been chasing the latest trend-of-the-moment in an effort to boost enrollment numbers. But without a cohesive strategy in place, these one-off efforts had generated few positive results.

Fredonia realized it needed a new model for enrollment management. Familiar with AACRAO Consulting’s expertise in Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM), Fredonia reached out to the organization for help in paving the way for SEM planning that would support sustainable enrollment gains for long-term institutional vitality.


AACRAO Consulting came to the Fredonia campus to conduct a series of interviews with faculty and staff to gather feedback as well as make a case for a SEM approach. AACRAO Consultants additionally analyzed years of the university’s enrollment data to develop a clearer picture of trends, challenges, and opportunities. Once the interviews and analysis were complete, AACRAO Consulting developed and presented a report outlining actionable recommendations around expanding the university’s enrollment reach beyond the current service area; clearly differentiating Fredonia from the competition; and ensuring the university remained an affordable option for prospective students.

AACRAO Consulting also provided recommendations for increased retention, including engaging all faculty and staff in supporting student success; re-evaluating policies that were inhibiting student success; engaging all students in the university experience; and revising the curriculum to simplify choices and provide clearer degree pathways.


Following AACRAO Consulting’s report, Fredonia established a SEM Steering Committee comprised of leadership, faculty, and staff. Additional committees focused on recruitment, retention, and data-sharing were also formed to ensure a cohesive, collaborative, and unified approach to implementing a SEM plan.

Fredonia has already seen positive results from AACRAO Consulting’s recommendations. Enrollment and student services have improved. Recruiters have also been able to respond more quickly to prospective students with faster decision times.

In fall 2019, Fredonia experienced a 2 percent increase in applications, while other universities in the SUNY family experienced decreases. The Fredonia student body is diversifying to include more first-generation college students, and the university is now focusing its efforts on improving retention for the new students they’ve attracted.