Enrollment for the 2009-10 school year is the highest in ACU history, according to official enrollment numbers recorded Tuesday. The university announced a total enrollment of 4,838, passing the 4,800 mark for the first time.
High enrollment reflects well on Dr. Royce Money, president of the university. When he accepts the role of chancellor in May, he will leave the university in a better position, financially and globally, than it was in when he arrived.
“My purpose all along was to build a solid platform for the next president and his or her administration to build on,” Money said. “In the Enrollment Management department, it’s in the business of being accomplished. It’s a continual process, but obviously, it has been a successful one.”
Phil Schubert, executive vice president, said several factors contributed to the enrollment increase: the two largest freshmen classes ever and a graduate class of almost 900 students for the past two years.
Money and Schubert said each area of emphasis outlined in the university’s 21st Century Vision – a five-year strategic plan to enhance the quality of academics and increase ethnic diversity, among other things – has improved in the past year. Money praised the Enrollment Management and University Marketing departments for their commitment.
“I think we made a good plan in the 21st Century Vision, and we’ve worked our plan over the last two years,” Money said. “As a result, we have reversed the downward trend in enrollment.”
A more intentional and personal recruiting process, an enhanced campus visits program and increased retention efforts also affected enrollment numbers, said Mark Lavender, director of admissions.
“It’s definitely a partnership with Retention, because we can bring in new students,” he said. “Then, ifwe can always retain them at a higher percentage, it’s going to help us with our enrollment goals.”
Schubert said 21 percent of this year’s incoming class is from an ethnically diverse background, 3 to 4 percent more than last year’s.
A demographic breakdown of the freshman class tells the university who exactly is attending the university each year. Demographics include high school standing and GPA, race, geographic origins, home church congregations and a male-to-female ratio of applicants and first-year students.
“We look at who is coming to ACU, where they are coming from and what they will bring,” Schubert said. “We feel all that is very important to shape the campus culture and provide the best experience for every student.”
Schubert said enrollment was expected to be higher than average this year, but some goals were questioned in the face of the recent economic downturn.
“We’ve got some real aggressive growth,” he said. “The economy makes it uncertain, but these targets were able to be achieved.”
Lavender said he is pleased the university’s enrollment has grown in a year when students and their families are feeling pressure from a sagging economy.
“With all of that, we are thrilled to be able to have an increase in enrollment for this year,” he said. “That is something a lot of colleges and universities cannot say.”
Not only has the total number of students on campus increased, but also there are more students who identify with congregations other than Churches of Christ.
“I don’t think we have a great concern that more and more of our incoming students are not identifying themselves specifically with the Church of Christ,” Schubert said. “We’re not seeing a dramatic shift in the key aspects of those congregations where they are attending. Most of them have a faith and practices very consistent with traditional Church of Christ. We see it as a great opportunity.”
Schubert said the numbers reflect the success of the 21st Century Vision.
“It’s encouraging to see that the investments in areas are seeming to work and be effective,” he said. “It’s a great year from an enrollment perspective.”
Dr. Money invited faculty and staff to join him for the campus enrollment celebration at 4 p.m. Friday in the Hunter Welcome Center.