President’s of the University Address Discusses Progress and Plans

Hope Brusstar, Managing Editor

On Thursday, President John Nicklow hosted his second annual discussion of UNO, past, present, and future, detailing his plans for the University and progress thus far. More than 200 faculty and staff entered the ballroom to enjoy refreshments and hear Nicklow speak.

First, Nicklow outlined his administration’s priorities. They include increasing enrollment, expanding “research enterprise,” and creating more partnerships.

His microphone failed three times in the first two minutes, prompting him to add, “New priority … I think we need to invest in a sound system.”

This spring, a Slidell Regional Education Center is opening to offer night courses. The location is UNO’s “first presence on the Northshore since Katrina,” Nicklow explained. More information is available at

He also lauded UNO’s improving athletics. “For the first time in 24 years, [we] hosted a post-season [basketball] game last evening. And we didn’t just host. We won.” He praised the women’s basketball team, which has “made conference tourney for the second straight season,” and the cheerleading squad, which “has grown threefold in the last year.”

The current fall 2018 enrollment goal is 8500 students.

Last year, UNO saw a 15 percent increase in undergraduate students, which Nicklow said was the largest improvement in eight years.

“The signs are very promising,” said Nicklow. “Today, freshman applications are up 26% from what they were this time last year.”

Lipman Hearne, an education marketing firm, did secret shopping for UNO and its competitors, and Stamats evaluated UNO’s graduate programs for their position in the marketplace. UNO has also taken on a media campaign for four graduate schools.

New recruitment strategies have also added on web display ads and geotargeting.

Part of increasing UNO’s population involves retaining students once they’re enrolled. Nicklow discussed the new 24-hour online tutoring available for free to all students through NetTutor. According to UNO’s website, the service became available this semester “as a part of most Moodle course sites.”

The Board of Regents has also expanded the Privateer Pathways program, created to provide extra support to students in mathematics or English. Nicklow noted that the retention rate for students in this program exceeds that of the general student body.

He then showed how grades have improved. Most notably, the grades that UNO students make in their first math course have improved 10 percent between fall 2016 and fall 2017.

The new goal for retention of freshmen is 70 percent, but Nicklow explained that “enrollment isn’t just about the percentage. It’s about the lives we change. … And many of you here in the room today are responsible for that.”

Nicklow’s administration has brought growth to UNO, but he is nowhere near finished.

Changes are soon arriving to the Earl K. Long Library, including a transformation of the first floor and a new schedule including 24-hour access Sunday through Thursday throughout the semester. New renovations will also remove the low wall in front of the library and build wide steps to open the library up to the quad.

Workday, a new faculty information system, will replace PeopleSoft, which will soon no longer be supported by the providers. Among other things, the new system will allow faculty to submit leave slips completely via a mobile phone app. UNO will save $4 million by partnering with other Louisiana universities to make this change. Students can also expect a new information system by 2020.

On April 27, UNO will be the first American location to host the 28th International Coding Contest. According to UNO’s website, “The current competition attracts more than 4,500 college students from 12 countries and 50 cities.” Any student in higher education can register at

UNO now has its first officially licensed beer, Privateer Pale Al by Wayward Owl Brewing Company. The partnership is not only free, but it will bring a profit to UNO. Said Nicklow, “As of last week, it is [now] sold in every Rouse’s.”

The campus will see a major beautification effort this spring, noted Nicklow. UNO will be resurfacing all parking lots and streets on campus, placing new university-branded benches in various locations, and replanting all flower beds.

“Everything I just mentioned is [supported] by private funding,” said Nicklow.

Finally, he added that the university is going through “a major redesign of our [website].” First updates will be released on March 28.

The new version will take a “future-students-first” strategy and be mobile-friendly.

“Considerable effort is going into improving the usability of the site,” said Nicklow. “This process is never done. We will be continually updating … to put the most popular content at the user’s fingertips.”

“Thank you for your commitment to this university,” he said in closing. Nicklow pointed out that dedication is “what makes this university so special” compared to other universities.

“None of this happens without [you]. None of it. …Be proud of [UNO] wherever you go, and talk about your university.”