by Linda Hass, Published October 03, 2012
Eastern Michigan University's student enrollment isn't the only thing that's growing-so is EMU pride, says Collin Taylor, a senior with a double major in sports management and marketing. "You can feel it on campus. There are more students at football games--including over 250 students who paid to sit in the Eagle Nation fan section--and more students choosing to stay here on weekends. Campus is coming alive; momentum is growing for EMU pride."
The 23-year-old is among students reacting to news that Eastern's enrollment of new undergraduate students has surged to an all-time high. This fall, 5,076 first-time freshmen, transfer students, students pursuing a second degree and other types of new undergraduate students enrolled in classes, contributing to the largest incoming class of new undergraduates in EMU's 163-year history.
Taylor's observation about an increasingly vibrant campus is backed by equally impressive statistics. This fall, 1,840 new students are living in EMU residence halls and apartments, a 19 percent increase from last fall's total of 1,549. Overall, 3,343 students are living in EMU housing this fall, an increase of 11 percent from last year's total of 3,013.
Senior Zach Bollinger, 23, an aviation flight technology major, says the new faces have enriched campus life. "I've noticed more students pledging in Greek life, and more attending various campus activities. It's awesome!" says Bollinger, a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity.
Bollinger, who swipes identification cards at athletic events for the Eagle Nation Rewards Program, said home soccer games usually attract about 20 students, faculty and staff, in addition to general spectators. A recent game, however, attracted 90 Eagles, he says. "It's not just more bodies--it's more cheers, more enthusiasm and more overall support," adds Bollinger. "This is a great time to be an Eagle!"
The increased enrollment contrasts with our state's population, which has slipped from 10,050,847 in 2007 to 9,876,187. Courtney Hough (BS11), 23, thinks she knows why EMU is bucking the trend. "Incoming students have told me they are drawn to the same benefits that first attracted me six years ago, including affordable tuition and a faculty accessible to students," says Hough, a second-year graduate assistant on track to receive a Master's degree in sports management this spring.
"It's like Eastern's reputation is starting to spread to a critical mass, with campus renovations adding to the momentum," she adds. In fact, Hough's family is a part of that critical mass, since both her parents received their degrees from EMU.
Katherine Campbell, 18, a freshman biology major, says her class is excited about being part of a record-setting milestone. "It's exciting to share this experience with so many other first-time students. It's like we're part of history," she says, adding that Eastern has a lot to offer.
Among the offerings, at least in Campbell's book, is an Honors College, a rich campus life and a beautiful campus. "When I first visited campus, I was very impressed with the green technology, especially in the science building," she says, referring to the newly renovated $90 million Science Complex. "Buildings like this make a great first impression."
Roy Wilbanks, chair of the EMU Board of Regents, agrees. "Our significant enrollment gains and the quality of this class is a reflection of the sustained effort Eastern has put into improving its facilities, academic programs and communications efforts. Historic campus improvements such as the Science Complex, the Pray-Harrold renovations and numerous residence hall enhancements are evidence of that continued improvement."