In 2021, Shippensburg University won the NCAA Division II Field Hockey championship, completing an undefeated season with a 3-0 victory over archrival West Chester. The “Ship” Raiders also won it all in 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2013, which I know because I saw it written in big letters on a banner festooning the fieldhouse on Ship’s campus in south-central Pennsylvania when I visited last month.
Ship was in fine form. Young men and women wearing logoed Champion sweatshirts bustled between buildings. There was a line at the coffee shop in the student union. It was the kind of bright-blue autumn day that you would see on a brochure.
There was no way to tell, from the outside, that Ship was a shrinking institution. Or that the problem is about to get a lot worse — not just here, but at colleges and universities nationwide.