Record Enrollment Attributed to Graduate, International Students
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Sept. 20, 2013) – Annual fall census data released by the University of Central Missouri indicate 2013 fall enrollment is up 5.2 percent from the previous year, contributing to the largest enrollment in the university’s 142-year history. While experiencing sustained growth and the third consecutive record fall enrollment, UCM also is experiencing increases in graduate student numbers and international students at the same time it is implementing an aggressive new student retention and student success initiative.
“This is historic,” said UCM Board of Governors President Marvin “Bunky” Wright. “It is exciting to see university initiatives that are designed to help recruit and retain students are paying off. We must continue to build upon the momentum.”
Overall UCM enrollment has continued to climb since 2009, and total student head count this fall is 12,494 students, an increase of 616 students over a year ago. Of the total student number, 9,955 are undergraduates, a 2.1 percent increase over last fall, and 2,539 are graduate students, up 15.7 percent. The number of international students attending UCM, 841, is a new record, and total international enrollment is up 55.7 percent over fall 2012.
“The 2013 fall enrollment numbers are outstanding,” said UCM President Charles Ambrose. “To sustain this type of strong momentum when the pool of recent Missouri high school graduates has declined is especially challenging, so we are grateful to our faculty and staff members who are committed, on a daily basis, to making UCM a popular choice and investment for our students. The UCM faculty and staff have worked above and beyond to help produce successful enrollment outcomes this fall while also implementing the university’s Learning to a Greater Degree contract. Getting your degree in four years and working to make certain that degree is meaningful to your future is important to students who choose UCM.”
UCM’s Learning to a Greater Degree conceptual contract is designed to help students graduate on time. It applies to incoming freshmen, and includes measures such as requiring these students to commit to taking 15 credit hours per semester, meeting with academic advisors on a regular basis, and residing on campus for their first two years. Such measures implemented at other institutions have proven successful in retention and greater academic success, according to Ambrose. An additional benefit for students who participate in the program is that those who complete a minimum of 30 semester hours a year for the first three years will receive a $1,000 scholarship to apply to their education after they have accumulated 90 semester hours.
An important area of ongoing focus for UCM is the recruitment of active duty military personnel who want to move up the career ladder and veterans who are transitioning to civilian life. Rick Sluder, vice provost for enrollment management, expects to see additional growth in this this area once all of these students have applied for the military benefits to which they are entitled during the remainder of the semester. The current number of students benefitting from military benefits is 676, which is an increase of more than 200 students over the past three years. Initiatives such as the Military Tuition Package and the Military and Veterans Success Center, which help active duty military and veterans to pursue their education goals, are contributing to growth.
Deborah Curtis, provost and chief learning officer joined Sluder in providing an enrollment update to the Board of Governors Sept. 20. She said increases in sophomores, juniors and seniors this fall are a sign that retention efforts are working. Retention will continue to be an area of focus as the university begins preparations for a new enrollment cycle.
Also contributing to an overall increase in enrollment is a larger number of students who are underrepresented in higher education. The number of Hispanic students, 248, is up 10.2 percent over a year ago, and African American students, 773, is a 2.5 percent increase over fall 2012.
Speaking about factors that contribute to enrollment growth, Curtis said UCM offers a large number of quality programs that are attractive to students. Increases are also because of faculty members who serve the university's students.
“The enrollment increases that UCM continues to experience are the product of the hard work of our future-focused faculty who are committed to providing students with an engaged learning experience,” she added. “Virtually every area of university operations has contributed to this year's record enrollment, including the International Center, Graduate School, Central's Summit Center, Military and Veteran Success Center, Extended Studies, and our work to increase student retention and success.”