By Megan Hansen / News editor
Enrollment has passed the 16,000-student mark for the first time in 13 years.University President Joanne Glasser told the Board of Regents Friday this fall’s enrollment of approximately 16,200 students, up from last year’s enrollment of around 15,951, is nearly a record. Enrollment has increased about 1.5 percent.
“I feel really good about our enrollment,” said Aaron Thompson, associate vice president for enrollment management.
Thompson said there are roughly 2,575 freshmen this year at Eastern and about 1,095 transfer students. “We’ve become a far more transfer-friendly school,” Thompson said. “We have worked hard to ensure the transfer process is smooth.”
Student Government Association President Lance Melching said an increase in enrollment is a mixed blessing.
“It’s always nice to see your university grow,” Melching said. “It’s a bad thing though because state funding is decreasing. It’s a Catch-22.”
Glasser also told the board the overall minority enrollment increased by 4 percent and black student enrollment is up 3 percent.
“We are focused more on minority enrollment and retention,” Thompson said. “There is a higher retention rate for minorities this year which makes minority enrollment higher.”
Thompson said Eastern has improved its recruitment of minorities. “We are working hard with the focus of recruiting minorities and keeping them here,” he said.
The number of graduate students at Eastern is down from last year. Thompson said this is because more students graduated last year than normal.
“We were at an all-time high for the number of graduate students,” Thompson said. “The higher graduation rate is why there are fewer graduate students this year.”
With an increased enrollment, more students are living on campus. Glasser told the board that nearly 265 more students are living on campus this fall than lived on campus last fall.
Director of Housing and Resident Life Kenna Middleton said she thinks the increase in the number of campus residents “is a real positive thing.”
“It’s reflective of an increase in enrollment and increased retention,” Middleton said. “We are seeing an increase in returning students.”
Middleton said even with an increase in the number of students living on campus, there are still enough rooms to accommodate everyone who wants to live on campus.
“We are OK at this point, especially with Combs Hall coming back online this fall,” Middleton said.
Middleton said university housing would be overcrowded if Combs Hall had not been reopened.
“We got about 225 beds back when Combs Hall reopened,” she said.
The number of private rooms this fall is limited, Middleton said. Not everyone who wanted a private room has been given one.
Thompson said increased enrollment is good as long as the university is able to keep up with the growth.
“We need to continue to serve our students to the best of our ability,” Thompson said. “We are able to do that at the size we are at now.”
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