Quality Rising as T-Bird Enrollment Holds Steady

Published: October 13, 2010 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Southern Utah University is pleased with the manageable enrollment growth this semester in Cedar City. The 1.6% growth in Budget-related FTE enrollment for fall semester allows the University to continue delivering the personalized education that has been its hallmark since 1897.

SUU President Michael Benson said, “We are pleased with this change. Burgeoning enrollment growth is not among the many goals we have at Southern Utah University. Our top priority is to maintain a great student to faculty ratio that allows us to deliver a hands-on educational experience that continues to focus on quality.”

Benson continued, “A very important metric of how we are doing with current students on campus is our retention rate and these numbers continue to climb. This tells us that we are helping more of our students reach their educational goals than we have in the past.”

The University wishes to develop very modest and controlled growth during these times of robust enrollment because taking on large numbers of new students dilutes the quality of the academic experience SUU proudly delivers. “We have no intention of capping enrollment,” said Benson, “but we know that our small class sizes and personal relationships between faculty and students greatly enhance the value of the education we are delivering. Large and unchecked enrollment growth runs counter to that.”

A new academic roadmap for SUU, rolled out this fall, guarantees each and every student one of five experiential learning engagement tracks to enhance their experience. Students can now expect to grow through Civic Engagement, Global Engagement, Leadership Engagement, Outdoor Engagement or Creative and Innovative Engagement. Explosive enrollment growth makes these individualized personal experiences much more difficult to achieve.

SUU students gain these kinds of experiences through undergraduate research, academic service learning, and internships or individualized learning, all of which greatly enhance graduates’ acceptance rates into graduate and professional schools upon graduation. Also, the 97.3% placement rate of SUU students is an outstanding percentage but something the University would love to improve upon.

As to the current enrollment stats, SUU Academic Vice President and Provost Brad Cook said, “A greater measure of our success is not how many students enter our doors, but how many leave our institution with a degree in hand and better prepared for the world ahead. Our mantra here at SUU is more about helping students succeed by helping them persist to graduation through a quality academic experience. Incidentally, we are up on every retention measure that matters which demonstrates we are moving in the right direction with our time and resources.”

Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Stephen Allen said, “I think it is important to point out that this is not only the largest freshmen class in SUU history, again, but the best prepared too. Both the ACT test scores and the grade point average of this incoming freshmen class is improved over last year’s class.”

Allen went on to say that the University’s enrollment increased in spite of the fact that admissions requirements became more rigorous this fall. “We are attracting a brighter student,” said Allen. “We are also increasing the diversity on our campus at the same time.”

Examples of increases in ethnic diversity include a 17% increase in Asian students, a 9% increase in Hispanic students and an 11% increase in American Indian/Alaskan Native students this fall over last fall.

President Mindy Benson concluded by saying, “If we can grow in a controlled and measured growth pattern, while helping more of our students reach their educational goals with a superior education, then we are extremely happy – more importantly, our students and their parents will be happier too.”

The Budget-related FTE is a formula-based enrollment figure, dividing the total number of students by 15 credit hours for undergraduates and by 10 credit hours for graduate students.

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