University Enrollment Stablizing After 20 Years of Record-Breaking Growth
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas welcomed 27,559 students to campus for the fall 2019 semester while setting new records for retention and graduation rates according to preliminary numbers.
While enrollment topped 27,500 for the third year in a row, this year’s total fell a little short of last fall’s record of 27,778, an indication that the size of the university’s enrollment is stabilizing after two decades of unprecedented growth.
“We were the fastest-growing land-grant university in the country from 2007-2017, according to Bloomberg, but we knew that could not continue forever and have been planning for an enrollment landscape that has fewer high school graduates nationally and in Arkansas,” said Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment management and the dean of admissions. “We have achieved a student body size that works well for our campus and for the needs of our students and faculty. Sustainable growth that matches infrastructure development is important going forward. Quality and targeted growth will continue to be our goal, and we feel well positioned to attain it.”
Arkansans made up 51.8% of the incoming freshman class of 4,601. While the number of freshmen is down from last fall, Graduate School enrollment, now 4,170, grew by 146 students or an increase of 3.6% since last year.
The university’s one-year retention rate increased to a record 84.2%, breaking the previous mark of 83.8% set the previous year. Four-year, five-year and six-year graduation rates also reached record highs. The six-year graduation rate increased to 66.2%, bettering the previous year’s record mark of 65.5%. The five-year rate increased by three percentage points to 66.1 percent while the four-year rate increased by 1.5 percentage points to the new record 51.9 percent.
“We believe our focus on enhancing the academic support and services that we provide to our students is paying off,” said Jim Coleman, executive vice chancellor and provost. “The four-year graduation rate increased from 42.1% to 51.8%, in just four years. This means we are really making progress on students graduating on time, and thus taking on less debt. And the addition of a center dedicated to student success, essentially a one-stop shop for student support, will only increase our ability to help students excel with their studies while staying on course to graduate on time.”
Construction of a new Student Success Center will begin this fall. The center will serve as a hub for the university’s personalized academic, financial and social support system for students. Centrally located on campus, just north of Old Main and adjacent to Memorial Hall, the center will also house all of the new student success programming and inititatives. The 71,000-square-foot center is scheduled to open in early 2022.
The incoming class of degree-seeking new freshmen equaled the records set by last year’s incoming class with an average ACT score of 26.3 and average high school GPA of 3.72.
Women once again make up the majority of the incoming class with 54.8%, compared to 45.2% for men. Women now make up 53.4% of the university’s total enrollment compared to 46.6% for men.
The number of Hispanic students enrolled increased to 2,390, a 3.1% increase since last year and a 43.5% increase since 2014. The number of African American students enrolled dropped by 15 or 1.2% to 1,202 students.
There are 23,025 undergraduate students enrolled this fall. A total of 364 students are enrolled in the School of Law, including 23 agricultural law students.
These numbers are based on the 11th day enrollment “snapshot” required by the Department of Higher Education, and taken this year on Sept. 10. The numbers are expected to change slightly as corrections are made and officially reported in October.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor
Jessica Mathis, a graduate student in biological anthropology, will lecture on bioarcheological applications in cultural resource management at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Discovery Hall 505.
Tomika Ferguson of Virginia Commonwealth University will present two lectures on Oct. 1, one on black women student-athletes and a second on safe spaces and visibility in the classroom.
Nearly 50 students — licensed practical nurses — from across Arkansas and beyond enrolled in the inaugural class to pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing through online instruction.
Lori Birrell has been appointed associate dean for Special Collections, and Joel Thornton has been appointed interim associate dean for Research and Learning.
Evan Michelson, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will discuss philanthropic support for research from 1:30-3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, in room 504 of the Arkansas Union.