Enrollment sees first increase in five years

UCA’s enrollment is at its highest peak in four years. This fall, the university experienced a 3.8 percent increase in overall enrollment and a 2.1 percent freshman enrollment increase, according to preliminary data released Sept. 6.

Total fall 2013 enrollment is 11,534 compared to 11,107 last year.

UCA President Tom Courtway said the number of students is up 427 this year.

“[The increase] just validates the work that our admissions staff, ambassadors and SOS staff have put into their jobs,” he said.

Courtway said the future of UCA is looking bright, thanks to university efforts.

“Working together, we have continually told the families and students of Arkansas and this region of the country about our great academics, campus life, student organizations and activities, and athletics,” he said in a news release.

Freshman enrollment increased to 2,200 students by this fall, compared to 2,157 in fall 2012, according to preliminary numbers.

Graduate student enrollment is 1,780, about 277 more students from last fall.

UCA is one of four public four-year universities in the state that announced a projected increase in enrollment this fall.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville projected a record 25,365 students enrolled. Last fall, the university had 24,537 enrolled.

Arkansas Tech University at Russellville stands at 9,223 students, according to The Courier. That number is up from 8,939 last year.

Steve Runge, provost and academic affairs vice president, said the university has changed policies and programs so students can feel confident about their college experience.

“We have modified our graduation structure, online programs and offered a one-time lottery scholarship makeup of $750 for entering freshmen [to account for cuts to the amount awarded],” he said. “We’ve been very aggressive with admissions so that potential students can get all the info about UCA they need, and also to the advising center so incoming freshmen can feel confident in getting the classes they need for the fall semester.”

UCA saw its highest enrollment in fall 2008 with 12,978 students.

In 2009, the university began experiencing a steady decline.

“UCA’s fall 2014 enrollment projection is 11,842,” Runge said. “We plan to stay on this train. We’re working hard.”

Runge said UCA has a broad array of undergraduate programs that students can choose for their major and that the university is accommodating to each students’ needs.

“We offer a quality education, have a beautiful campus, and parents feel good about sending their children here,” he said. “It’s very safe and our police department is fantastic. They work hard to make sure students are safe.”

UCA faculty and staff have been working to implement the UCA Core, which revamps the general education program through first-year seminar courses and a reduced amount of required credit hours.

Runge said the enrollment increase and changes help the university.

“We want to do everything in our power to make sure our students succeed and graduate,” he said. “This is why we’ve just opened an Office of Student Success this semester.”

The new Office of Student Success is located on the second floor of Harrin Hall. Julia Winden-Fey, OSS director, said the office helps meet the needs of students who need advice to stay in college.

“The administration hopes that this office and its programs will assist students in persisting in their academic careers and attaining their goals—including, of course, graduation and a college degree,” she said. “We have seen increases in new student enrollment for a few years, but we know that we need to do more to ensure that students who begin at UCA successfully complete their academic programs.”

OSS programs include the Academic Success Center, success workshops and Unlocking College Academic Now.

Additional programs being established for the OSS include expanded supplemental instruction, summer bridge programs for at-risk students and a UCA Steps (Coaching) Program.

Winden-Fey said faculty members are aiming at implementing these new programs for the 2014-2015 school year.

“It is an exciting time to be at UCA,” Courtway said.

People of UCA: Michael Hopper

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