Submitted by The Evergreen State College
On September 27, 2021, fall classes began at The Evergreen State College, kicking off the college’s year-long 50th-anniversary celebration.
Students were welcomed back on the Olympia campus for the first time in 19 months and the entire Evergreen community is dipping their toes back into a combination of in-person, hybrid and virtual classes. Since 1971, Evergreen has been known for its ever-evolving ways which may be part of the reason the college was successful in its temporary pivot last year from in-person learning to an environment that could better protect students, staff, faculty and the community at large from getting sick from COVID-19.
Earlier on Thursday, October 14, Evergreen’s Board of Trustees heard a preliminary enrollment report. Evergreen welcomed 711 new students this fall, 12 more than last year. There are fewer new undergraduate students this year (-21) and more graduate students (+33). This leaves the college with an overall enrollment of 2,116 students, a 7 percent drop from the previous year.
Interim President John Carmichael said that these enrollment numbers exceeded the college’s budget targets. “The size of this new entering class shows that the college is on path to stabilize and grow enrollment in future years.” Carmichael expects that the final enrollment report the Board of Trustees will receive in November will show a strong improvement in year-to-year retention of first-year students.
In anticipation of the college reopening, Evergreen was an early adopter for an across-the-board vaccine requirement. As of today, 100 percent of faculty, close to 97 percent of staff and 95 percent of students at the college have provided proof of vaccine or an approved religious or medical exemption. Students who have not uploaded their vaccine status or received an approved exemption must attend classes remotely and are not allowed on the campuses or in housing.
All staff and faculty must also comply with Governor Inslee’s vaccine mandate for state and higher education employees which requires staff and faculty to receive a vaccine or medical or religious exemption by Monday, October 18.
“Greeners care about each other and their surrounding communities. The overwhelmingly positive vaccine response by students, faculty and staff is proof of that,” said Dexter Gordon, Evergreen’s Executive Vice President. Both Carmichael and Gordon were appointed by the college’s Board of Trustees earlier this year.
“I am new to the Evergreen family,” Gordon shared. “In the past few months, I have been able to spend time on both the Olympia and Tacoma campuses and the passion and rigor for learning I see from students and faculty is exhilarating. We have a lot of good, hard work to do, and we are all up for the task.”
The college began this fall offering certificates and will be continuing to expand offerings to help people with some or no college complete their education goals to be even more successful in the workplace.
Evergreen continues to be a place dedicated to empowerment, collaboration, creative problem solving and making unlikely connections that change the way we see the world. It is a place flexible enough to adapt to society’s challenges and prepares people to meet their futures with confidence. And over the decades, Greeners have done amazing things. They have contributed to groundbreaking research, become industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs, and made countless imprints on both underground and mainstream culture.
“We were seeing encouraging enrollment indicators prior to COVID,” said Carmichael. “And in 2020, colleges across the country we’re seeing a decline in admissions. With a vaccine and safety protocols, along with the return of in-person learning and new academic offerings, I am optimistic that we will start to see numbers increase in the years ahead.”