TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State University’s enrollment has climbed to its highest level in nearly 20 years, officials reported Wednesday.
This fall, the headcount is 12,114, up 5 percent over last year. That’s an increase of nearly 600 students.
Three years of significant growth among new students, as well as improved retention, are the major reasons.
“It’s great to see all the hard work by lots of people on lots of fronts pay off,” said Dan Bradley, ISU president. “We’ve done the right things to bring more students.”
Factors contributing to the success include the hard work of many people across campus, improved facilities and a commitment to provide a quality education at an affordable cost, he said during an interview at Federal Hall, which houses the Scott College of Business.
ISU has strived to be more visible in the state, he said. “We’re working harder with students who apply, and we’re making big efforts to control costs.”
With ISU’s student body exceeding 12,000 students this fall, the university is two years ahead of the enrollment goal established in its strategic plan.
Among the new freshmen on campus this fall is Richelle Dennison of New Palestine, who is majoring in criminology.
She chose to attend ISU because “I like the size of the campus … It’s the perfect distance from home and it’s a beautiful campus.” She heard ISU had a good program in criminology.
Dennison also said she “felt a lot safer” here than some of the other cities where she was considering attending college.
So far, she’s happy with her ISU experience. “I love it,” she said.
ISU senior Aubrey Hancock, a senior from Vincennes, is a Networks Scholar and has benefited from a full-tuition academic scholarship from the university.
An accounting major, she’s had many opportunities “to get engaged with the community and visit different industries,” she said while in a Federal Hall commons area Wednesday.
Hancock described her ISU experience as “great. I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities here.” She studied abroad in China and also visited Germany and Switzerland.
The ISU freshman class this year is 2,668, an increase of 147 students over last year, said John Beacon, vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications.
This is the third consecutive year for record new student growth, he said. The number of transfer students has also exceeded 700 for the past four years, this year reaching 747.
Campus pride has grown, and ISU has become a destination for students, Beacon said.
“I think we have something to market,” Beacon said. “It’s a place where people want to be.”
Not only has ISU gained greater market share, but the academic performance indicators of these students continues to improve, he said.
Student retention, a major priority at ISU, also has improved. The retention of first-time, full-time bachelor-degree seeking students is up 2.1 percent. The number of returning students increased by nearly 600 students since last fall.
“We’ve put the resources and people in place that can have an impact,” Bradley said. “It takes awhile to know which things you’re doing have the most impact.”
While retention has improved, “It’s not where it needs to be,” Bradley said. One thing ISU has done is to “make sure everybody looks at retention as something they need to do.”
With campus housing near capacity, ISU planning for continued growth, Bradley said. Erickson Hall is being renovated to return to its original use as a residence hall while additional student housing is planned both on campus and in downtown Terre Haute, where the university is working with a private developer to house students in new or renovated buildings that will also include office and retail space.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.