Enrollment shows 6 percent increase in last two years

Chris Wilcox
Staff writer

Graphic by Erin Jackel/The News

Murray State enrollment hit 10,617 students as of Oct. 25. The University submitted that number to the Council on Postsecondary Education on Nov. 1. The CPE will use Murray State’s data along with that of other public universities to compile an annual report on enrollment growth.

Murray State’s number represents an overall increase of 6 percent over the last two years, and officials are attributing the student growth to more first-time freshmen and transfer students.

Fred Dietz, executive director for enrollment management, said this year’s enrollment numbers have increased across the board.

“As of Oct. 25 there were 10,617 students at Murray State University,” Fred Dietz, executive director for enrollment management said. “We have grown 6 percent in two years – first time freshmen enrollment rose 8.5 percent, new transfer students rose 10 percent and international students rose approximately 15 percent.”

Dietz said of the total students there are 8,658 undergraduates at Murray State.

During the fall of 2010 there were 10,416 students at the University, meaning this year’s numbers are up 201 students from the count last fall – an increase of 2.9 percent.

Murray State’s enrollment growth is the second highest in the state.

While Murray State’s numbers are climbing, so are those of the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University.

UK now has a total enrollment of 28,098 students according to the institution’s website, and Morehead State has an estimated total enrollment of 10,235 students according to projections done by the CPE.

Dunn changed his original 12×12 – 12,000 students by 2012 – goal to the 11,000 students by 2012 goal on Oct. 5, during the State of the University Address in October.

Dunn said the reason for the change was because if the CPE estimates were to trend into 2012, his original enrollment goal would be difficult to reach.

“While I think it becomes a very tough road to make it to 12,000 students in one more year, we will be at 11,000,” Dunn said during the State of the University Address.

Dunn declined to comment on the current numbers the University is touting, but referred questions to Mark Welch, director of community relation.

Another positive number for Murray State is that of international students, Welch said.

“International student enrollment jumped 15 percent on campus, an indication of the University’s commitment to building on its already strong international reputation,” Welch said via email.

He said if this trend continues, a goal of having 11,000 students would be attainable by next fall.

Dietz said the role of Enrollment Management was to coordinate all the enrollment efforts for the University by implementing processes and programs that enhance student enrollment, student learning and student success.

Enrollment would need to increase next year by 3.5 percent to complete the 11,000 students by 2012 goal.

Dietz said one of Dunn’s new imperatives; Excellence through Quality, also addressed at the State of the University Address, brings more students to Murray State every year.

Provost Bonnie Higginson said administrators know that success won’t come from recruiting just one type of student.

“We have a comprehensive recruitment system to increase our number of traditional, transfer, international and graduate students,” Higginson said.

Another factor that influences enrollment numbers is the retention of students.

“The President’s Commission on Retention has worked for the past year to identify critical factors associated with retention of our students,” Higginson said.

Higginson said in an effort to increase enrollment the advising process in particular is being addressed.

“We are providing training for new academic advisors, developing an informative web page to assist students and faculty, and working to ensure that all students receive academic mentoring to help them succeed,” Higginson said.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said this year’s numbers show the hard work and dedication of a lot of individuals.

“The enrollment management office, Fred Dietz’ operation, the transfer center, the international student office, the graduate admissions offices, faculty and staff worked very hard making recruiting a priority,” Robertson said. “Our partnerships with racer academy have also been very successful.”

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