UF Online is welcoming Evangeline Cummings as its new director, and she has the task of raising the program’s enrollment.
There were 900 students enrolled in the Spring 2015 term — 300 fewer than initially predicted in a business plan drafted in 2013.
Of those students, 91 percent are in-state, said UF Online interim-director Andy McCollough.
McCollough said he expects the program to grow despite current low numbers. He said the challenge is increasing out-of-state enrollment, and a marketing team is working to advertise the program to out-of-state and international students.
UF Online was created to provide Florida residents with affordable and convenient access to higher education. Once UF Online was approved by legislation, it had about six months to launch before the Jan. 1, 2014, deadline.
Enrollment has slowly increased since UF Online began last year. There were about 560 students in Spring, 475 during Summer and 838 in Fall. The program offers 15 bachelor’s degrees fully online, and the first freshman class will graduate in 2018.
In-state UF Online students pay about $111.92 per credit hour, which is no more than 75 percent of traditional residential students’ tuition.
Out-of-state online students’ cost per credit hour depends on their degree’s national average market price.
Traditional, in-state students paid $210.43 per credit hour during the 2014-2015 academic year, and traditional out-of-state students paid $953 per credit hour.
The university is eager to work with Cummings on the enrollment challenges.
Cummings starts July 1 with a salary of $185,000. She is currently a director with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
UF spokesman Steve Orlando wrote in an email that she showed skills desirable for the position.
“The search committee and the provost were looking for someone with the ability to plan strategically and to manage a large and complex operation,” he said.
McCollough was part of the search for a new director, which began July 2014. He said he was impressed with Cummings’ experience and management skills.
“She seems to be a lady that has significant experience in terms of managing and strategizing,” he said. “I think she will be a quick learner.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 - 4 on 4/2/2015 under the headline “Enrollment in UF Online low; expect growth”]