Despite a decrease in enrollment and slow growth in the endowment, the Otterbein board of trustees says it's doing better than expected in its five-year plan.

“Otterbein University has a withstanding commitment to invest its resources and assets to upgrade and enhance teaching, learning and living environments,” said President John Comerford.

According to Vice President for Enrollment Management Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, the institution saw a slight increase in undergraduate enrollment for the spring semester. However, there was a decrease in graduate enrollment, partially due to changes in the nursing graduate program. 

The university is currently seeing increases in applications for both summer and fall enrollment at the graduate level and increases for fall enrollment at the transfer level. In addition, the institution is ahead in deposits for the incoming first-year class. 


"We are cautiously optimistic,” said Blackburn-Smith. “It's very early in the timeline and lots can happen with these numbers moving forward.”

Two new partnerships with Columbus State Community College and Shanghai Printing and Publishing College will add to enrollment numbers, as well as revenue in the upcoming years. By fall 2020, between twenty and thirty students from China will attend Otterbein to complete their degrees in art.

The 2018 audit financial statement pointed to a slight decrease in tuition revenue (from $42.3 to $41.4 million). The university’s net tuition decreased by 1 percent and there was a slight decrease in room and board.


The Financial Resources Committee report noted that Otterbein spent $1 million less than projected at this point during the five-year plan. However, the university is still dipping into the endowment more than expected. As of Jan. 25, the institution’s endowment was $107 million.

The board acknowledged the impact of a negative fourth quarter in the market that took the year with it. Despite the loss of nearly 9 percent year-to-date, currently the institution’s performance in the market is up almost 4 percent and is recovering. 

The board approved the resolution of the fiscal year 2020 capital budget allocation with an anonymous vote.

The board of trustees did not give an update on the campus center renovation during the public meeting.