More students attend Southern Arkansas University than they have in the University’s past 100-year history. This year’s fall semester total enrollment is 3,287, an increase of 170 students from last fall. This is a 5 percent increase. And for the fourth year, SAU has more than 600 freshmen beginning their college career at the University dating back to 2000. This increase also means more students are living on campus, a total of 1,262 compared to 1,186 last fall. This is a 6 percent increase. The highest previous on-campus housing enrollment prior to this dates back to 1968 with 1,240 students in campus housing.
Graduate enrollment has seen significant improvements in the last three years. Graduate school student semester credit hours (SSCH) has seen a 106.3 percent increase over the past five years. The university with the closest comparison is the University of Central Arkansas with 74.2 percent.
On-line enrollment has increased 2,586.2 percent over the past five years for the University as well. This increase is more than any other college in Arkansas.
“It is particularly exciting to see a record enrollment during our Centennial year,” said University President Dr. David Rankin. “I believe the expansion of our campus infrastructure and enhanced recruiting efforts are major contributors.”
In 1910 the University began its enrollment with 92 high school students. The first college class was in 1923 with 20 college students and 345 high school students. The enrollment of the University peaked during the Vietnam War era topping at around 2,534 in 1965. The University first reached the 3,000 mark in 2000 and has continued to increase overall since that period.
Retention is another area in which University officials are proud to see continuous improvements. According to Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Donna Allen, more students who are beginning their college degree at SAU are graduating. As vice president for student affairs, Allen is also the coordinator of retention for the University.
“Our freshmen retention rate improved 7 percent from last year to this year. We had the highest number of graduates for the 2008-2009 year with 601.We also are the only University in Arkansas that have living and learning communities in all of its residence halls which lead to improved retention in college.”
SAU offers more than 60 degrees through four colleges: education, science and technology, business, and liberal and performing arts. SAU also offers 16 master’s degrees in education, counseling, business administration and public administration. In the master’s program, classes are offered online or in neighboring cities to make it more convenient for students who often work fulltime, but still want to earn their degree.
The outlook for spring’s enrollment is positive and is expected to be the largest ever spring enrollment as well. December graduation is projected to require two ceremonies for the first time in history.