Western enrollment sets yet another record

Rising enrollment at Western Oregon University has been a trend of late, and school officials want to make sure it remains a comfortable one.

WOU’s enrollment increased 10.2 percent this fall, according to data recently released by Oregon University Systems. Of those students, 7.5 percent are full-time equivalent.

That increase notches another WOU total-enrollment record, a record that has been eclipsed in each of the past five years. Total student headcount has increased from 4,889 in 2006 to 6,233 this fall. The 2010 numbers include 5,318 undergrads and 915 grad students.

“We’ve been on a nice swing of increasing enrollment for the past five or six years,” said WOU Associate Provost David McDonald.

The institution opened the new Ackerman Residential Hall this year, which is seeking LEED Platinum standards. In addition to housing about 300 students, the facility also has classroom space.

A new Health and Wellness Center is on track for a January opening. At that time more classroom space will become available, and eventually the facility will provide more recreation and exercise areas.

Another area of increase has been faculty. McDonald said the school added seven faculty members this year and is in the process of increasing that by another 10 by fall 2011.

“We’ve managed to maintain our faculty to student ratio of at 25 to 1,” McDonald said.

McDonald said achieving that is possible with this level of growth.

The most rapid per-capita growth among state schools came at Southern Oregon University, which grew 26.2 percent over the past year; rising from 5,104 in the fall of 2009 to 6,443 in 2010.

SOU passed WOU as the fourth largest University in the state in overall headcount, while WOU still has nearly 500 more FTE students.

Respective headcounts at the state schools are: Portland State University, 28,522; Oregon State University, 23,761; University of Oregon, 23,389; SOU, 6,443; WOU, 6,233; Eastern Oregon University, 4,137; Oregon Institute of Technology, 3,797; and Oregon State University — Cascades, 678.

University of Oregon has the largest FTE population with 22,631, followed by Oregon State at 21,584 and PSU with 20,476.

“Enrollment increases again exceeded projections this year,” said Bob Kieran, assistant vice chancellor for Institutional Research and Planning for OUS. “The 10-year growth of 30,000 students is the equivalent of adding a university even larger than PSU to the system.”

McDonald once again cited the Western Tuition Promise as one factor helping WOU attract and retain students. He said this year’s senior class is the first class to enroll with that program, and it is estimated they will save an average of $2,500 during the four years.

McDonald also noted that minority student numbers also continue to rise, especially Latinos. Last year the student body consisted of about 8 percent Hispanic; it’s 10 percent this fall.

jmuch@statesmanjournal.com or (503) 399-6736

Read more: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20101117/COMMUNITIES/11170316/Western-enrollment-sets-yet-another-record#ixzz15eu7Peok

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