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St. Mary’s College of Maryland is ramping up its efforts to recruit students for next year after a shortfall in enrollment this year led to millions in budget cuts from lost tuition dollars.

The low enrollment for the Class of 2017 will continue to haunt the college’s budget for the next three years, the colleges trustees were told Saturday, and more cuts are coming.

Gary Sherman, vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions, outlined ways that the admissions office has changed and also reviewed some of the errors made last year that led to the enrollment shortfall.

Sherman said the admissions office personnel are working to fill that gap, and have visited more than 400 high schools and college fairs this fall to recruit for next year.

“We did lose some ground over the past year, and it’s going to take some time to regain that ground,” Sherman acknowledged.

He said that the admissions department last year put in place an early-action process allowing prospective students to apply by Nov. 1, 2012, in order to be notified within a month with an offer of admission and a merit scholarship.

“Unfortunately, neither of those things happened,” Sherman said. In fact, Sherman said, applications did come in early but the college did not contact those applicants until months later — in March.

Sherman said this year the number of applicants for the college’s two early-decision deadlines is promising, and the college is already responding to many of those applicants.

The college is targeting to enroll 420 freshmen and 120 transfer students next year. However, administrators are budgeting based on this year’s final number, which currently is at about 476 new students, counting freshmen and transfers.

Sherman said the number of high school graduates in much of the country is down by 7 percent, resulting in all colleges having a smaller pool of potential applicants and students.

However, some regions of the country, including some parts of Maryland, are seeing more Latino high school graduates, a demographic St. Mary’s hopes to tap into.

“It’s going to change the face of higher education in this country a lot,” Ian Newbould, interim president, said. He said St. Mary’s College needs to create new programs and cultural opportunities as the Latino population continues to grow.

“As unpleasant as the [budget] cuts were ... the process was a success,” Gail Harmon, chair of the trustees, said.

The college reduced this year’s budget by about $3.5 million with input from faculty, staff and others. However, about a third of those reductions were one-time cuts, and will need to be replicated in next year’s budget, Chip Jackson, vice president of business and finance, said.

“We are being very holistic in our evaluations of things we can reduce,” Jackson said. “It will be very difficult.”

The college is considering cuts to most departments and areas, including the arts, through a budget committee on campus.

Several letters of support for artist-in-residence Brian Ganz, a pianist, indicate that his status at the college is in jeopardy. College administrators and trustees would not comment publicly about what they called a personnel matter. “I’ve been really deeply moved by the outpouring of support” from students and the community, Ganz said.

Ganz is one of two musicians in residence at the campus, along with violinist Jose Cueto.

Both have been associated with the St. Mary’s College since the late 1980s. Ganz teaches one-on-one piano instruction to several advanced students at the college and regularly performs publicly on campus.

Newbould wrote the following statement in response to letters written to him and the trustees: “We are doing all that we can to put the College on a sustainable path, and to be affordable for Maryland families. As we examine our activities, we are emphasizing support for our students and their academic programs.

“At the same time, we are mindful of our support for public performances, whether it be the River Concert Series, plays and performances put on by our theatre department, athletic events, and the many departmental activities available to the public. We are endeavoring as much as possible to sustain support for public performances and programs within the resources provided to us by the state, by our students and by our friends.”

Search continues

for new president

The trustees plan to do “airport interviews” of candidates to take over as president of the college by the end of February and campus visits by a small selection of finalists in early March.

Newbould was hired as acting president after former president Joseph Urgo resigned at the end of the last academic year. “We hope to be able to announce a new president in late March or early April,” Harmon said.

Maureen Silva, the college’s vice president of advancement, will be leaving soon to take a job at Bridgewater College in Virginia.

Newbould said he plans to appoint an interim vice president to work through next calendar year to assist as a new president comes on board.

jyeatman@somdnews.com