News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 29, 2013

ISU enrollment at 40-year high

12,448 students highest since ’72

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Fall semester enrollment at Indiana State University has reached its highest level in more than 40 years, university officials announced Wednesday.

Growth in the number of returning students and record graduate college enrollment, together with another large class of new freshmen, helped boost fall student head count to 12,448, an increase of 334 from last fall. That represents a 2.7-percent gain.

Overall enrollment is the highest since 1972, when slightly more than 13,000 students attended, according to ISU.

“I think we’ve been recognized as a contender in the competition for Indiana students,” said John Beacon, vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications.

Factors in the university’s favor are its size, its efforts to make a college education affordable and its customer service, he said.

It has launched a new University College, which has a new, more “intrusive” approach to student advising. About a dozen staff members are focused on helping first-year and transfer students with course planning, monitoring their progress and guiding them through any rough spots.

“This campus is doing a lot of good things,” Beacon said.

On Tuesday, ISU announced it has been named the top campus in the nation for community service by Washington Monthly magazine.

The incoming class of 2,661 new freshmen includes the largest honors class ever, with 306 students. Total enrollment in the University Honors Program also is a record, with 964 students.  

More than half of all incoming freshmen (1,452 students) received the university’s Laptop Award, which requires a minimum 3.0 grade-point average. The number of Laptop Award recipients has more than doubled since the program began in 2006, when 677 laptops were distributed.

The number of in-state residents choosing ISU increased over last year, Beacon said, and the university continues to attract high numbers of transfer students — more than 700 for the fourth straight year following a decade of decline.

ISU would still like to improve its number of transfer students, Beacon said.

Graduate student enrollment rose 7 percent this fall to a record 2,180 students, in part because of the launch of new master’s and doctoral programs in health care, which are aimed at addressing shortages in a variety of fields.

Campus housing at Indiana State is full, and construction is under way to open additional student housing in 2014. Erickson Hall has been renovated and reopened this fall as a residence hall, housing about 250 students. Most recently, it had housed classes and faculty and departmental offices.

Improved retention also is a factor in the university’s overall enrollment numbers, officials say.

ISU has had a 5-percent increase in freshman-to-sophomore retention during the past two years.

  Since last fall, freshmen-to-sophomore retention has improved nearly 3 percent, from 60.6 percent to 63.5 percent.

  There also has been a 5.5-percent jump in retention among 21st Century Scholars. “This has been especially gratifying for us,” said Josh Powers, associate vice president for student success. ISU has a high number of 21st Century Scholars.

“Working to enable our low-income students to succeed has been and continues to be a big commitment of the university. Their [21st Century Scholars] retention reached 62.2 percent, nearly matching the overall student retention figure and the highest it has been since 2009,” Powers said.

  Retention of LEAP students also has improved. LEAP is a summer bridge program for students who experienced academic challenges in high school, Powers said. He likened it to an academic boot camp.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or