by Geoff Larcom, Published September 21, 2010
YPSILANTI - Enrollment at Eastern Michigan University has increased by more than 7 percent in the last two years, propelling the University to the fifth highest total number of students in its 161-year history.
Final enrollment numbers show an overall enrollment increase of 2.8 percent over last year, which includes a 4.3 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment. This represents an overall year-to-year increase of 644 students
to a new total enrollment of 23,503. Last year's enrollment increase was 4.25 percent.
The most significant growth this year occurred in transfer students, with an increase of 11.3 percent, and in returning undergraduate students, which increased 6.4 percent.
Retention of first-year students increased significantly, with 77 percent of freshmen returning for a second year, compared to 72 percent for the 2008 entering freshmen class. This is the highest retention rate of first-year students recorded at Eastern since it began tracking the data in 1992.
"The increase in enrollment indicates the appeal of our academic programs
and outstanding faculty, as well as the unprecedented investment in 46 new faculty and $195 million in new construction, renovation and upgrades in student-focused facilities," said President Susan Martin.
Eastern Michigan is finishing work on its $90-million science complex, the largest project in campus history, and also is renovating its largest and busiest classroom facility, Pray-Harrold. The science complex will open later this fall,
and Pray-Harrold is set to reopen in September 2011. Upgrades also have been made to residence halls and many other buildings, as well as investments in energy savings and the beautification of campus.
In addition, Eastern froze tuition and fees, and room and board for 2010-11, the second consecutive year the University has had the lowest percentage change in tuition among the state's 15 public universities.
"We have set the pace in terms of keeping education affordable for our students and their families," Martin said. "Our priorities of helping students attend Eastern are clear, and the students are noticing."
Student credit hours, a key internal measurement for budget purposes, increased 2.7 percent from last year. Eastern has now experienced seven consecutive semesters of credit hour growth.
Martin and Bernice Lindke, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, credited hard work by Eastern's faculty and staff for the success.
"It has been a team effort all around campus, with a shared sense of purpose and a primary focus on students," said Lindke. "This demonstrates our collective commitment to putting education first."
In adopting the 2010 - 2011 budget, the University set a credit hour growth target of 3.4 percent. "Targets are established to provide an objective to reach," said Martin. "We were aggressive in our plan when we announced the '0-0-0' initiative. We knew it would be a challenging budget and we are working hard through cost containment to keep it balanced.
"We are satisfied that our efforts to maintain low tuition, room and board rates was the right thing to do, and helped open the university to more students who might not be able to attend. Our alumni and friends take great pride in Eastern's leadership to keep college affordable in these trying times."