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Football and enrollment are surging at Notre Dame. Photo: Christian Taske
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WKYC Reports on Enrollment, Football

WKYC-TV3 reporter Dick Russ spent a day on campus and was impressed with Notre Dame College's spectacular enrollment growth and the football team as it prepared for its first game on Saturday, Aug. 28. His story follows:

With its first-ever varsity football game as its most recent catalyst, Notre Dame College continues its steady growth of the last several years.

Seven years ago, the college, which went co-ed only in 2001, had just over 300 full-time students. Today, enrollment exceeds 2,000, including full and part-time students, and non-traditional and online students.

Notre Dame College president Dr. Andrew P. Roth says the new football program has a lot to do with that, since it was announced almost two years ago.

"Football has the ability on a college campus to lift spirit and create morale faster than just about anything else," Dr. Roth tells WKYC.

As for sustaining the growth on a more long-term level, he gives credit to a renewed recognition of the impact of the college's founders.

"Part of the reason is the historic legacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame," says Dr. Roth. "For the better part of a century, they created a reputation in the Cleveland area for teaching excellence, and we are the beneficiaries of that legacy."

Dr. Roth says Notre Dame College has also learned to capitalize on the legacy and create a specialized place for itself in the world of higher education.

"We've been very shrewd in identifying niches where there are underserved areas," Dr. Roth told WKYC.

"For example, we have large numbers of students in our nursing program, in our program specializing in academic support for students with learning differences, and in security policy studies in our intelligence program."

Notre Dame College is attracting an increasing number of transfer students and new freshmen. Among them is Strongsville High School graduate Natalie Mariano, who hopes to major in business administration and to play softball.

"I kind of like the smaller atmosphere because it's a close knit community. You kind of get to know a lot of people, and it's just very welcoming," she said, during a tour of the campus on Tuesday.

"My major is sports management and the Cleveland area provides a lot of opportunities for internships with professional sports teams," says transfer student Darren Himsworth, of Dayton, who also took a tour of his new campus.

Himsworth plans to play baseball and was attracted in part by Notre Dame College's move into varsity football and eventual NCAA Division II status.

"I'm definitely excited to be a part of that," he said.

The Notre Dame Falcons open their first-ever football season Saturday night against Mercyhurst Collge of Erie, Pennsylvania. This and five other home games will be played at Korb Field at Brush High School in Lyndhurst.

"This is going to be part of everybody's story. It's their legacy," head coach Adam Howard said, of the historic upcoming opening game, as he took a break between two-a-day practices on the campus.

"It's one of the reasons I took this job and wanted to be here at Notre Dame," says Howard, who previously served six years as an assistant coach at Baldwin Wallace. "It's an opportunity to do something that's never been done before."

Notre Dame President Roth says the football program attracted 150 new students to campus in the last two years.

"About 120 of those men are still involved in football, but the other 30 have chosen to stay with us as students," he pointed out. "I don't think any other them would have chosen Notre Dame College without the football program."

The school hopes to increase enrollment to more than 3,000 in the next three to five years, with an emphasis on non-traditional and online students.

The college's administration is excited about the recent growth, and says it is due in part to doing a better job of telling prospective students about Notre Dame College, which was founded in 1922.

"You don't want to be the best kept secret in business or education, so we made it a point to get that information out there," says Dave Armstrong, vice president for Enrollment and General Counsel.

"The number one thing is the faculty." Armstrong explained. "It's the number one thing we talk about. Our faculty are fantastic with the students and take a personal interest in their success every day."

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