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Small school, big results Caldwell, bucking national trend, is growing in size, stature

Caldwell President Nancy Blatter on its soaring enrollment, which is up roughly 40 percent in five years: “Frankly, it's going against the trends in higher education with the economic downturn.”

When Dr. Nancy Blattner first became president of Caldwell College in 2009, she took her cause to the streets. Or, in this case, to the dorms.

“I spent six late nights in the residence hall talking with students about what they liked and what they wished was different,” she said. “The first of those six meetings that started after 10 o’clock and went on well after midnight had over 160 students in attendance.”

She not only took their suggestions — which included extended hours for the library and fitness center and finding a new, local food service provider — but she found a way to act on them. And others.

It has made a big difference.

The Caldwell-based school has seen constant growth over Blattner’s five years as president, going against the downward trend in higher education.

On July 1, the school had a milestone moment when it was upgraded to university status. Blattner, however, doesn’t want all the credit.

“I think Caldwell had really become a university before I came, and it was simply a matter of recognizing the reality and claiming the status it had already worked toward,” she said.

It was planned by the college to claim this new university status in conjunction with Caldwell’s 75th anniversary on Sept. 19. But when Blattner received the notification from the state last December, she made the decision to roll out the new brand in July.

“Trying to do this with signage and stationery and everything else that would be entailed by our name change would have been very difficult during an academic year,” she said. “I can’t take credit for too much of it except I had the vision we could become Caldwell University because I saw all of the components already in place.”

She cites very strong faculty credentials, a supportive library system and a budget committed to the graduate program.

Whatever the reasons may be, Caldwell definitely has something going for it. And it has the growth to prove it.

Andrew Sheldon

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