WMU News

Freshman enrollment soars by 18 percent

Sept. 16, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Beginning freshman enrollment at Western Michigan University this fall hit 4,426, shattering the University's previous record freshman enrollment figure, set last year, by 18 percent.

The University closed its freshman class in May after receiving a record number of applications for spots in the fall freshman class. Since the closure-the first in WMU's history-record numbers of students participated in summer orientation sessions, leading University officials to expect a large increase in freshman numbers this fall. This year's beginning freshman class has 668 more students than last year's previous record class of 3,758 students.

"The size of this record freshman class is a huge tribute to the work of our faculty and staff," said WMU President Elson S. Floyd of the news. "The figures show that the quality academic experience the University offers is proving very attractive to a large number of top academic students. Our enrollment numbers also reflect substantial gains in such important areas as the Graduate College."

Total fall enrollment at WMU stands at 27,744, an overall increase of 4.4 percent over last year's total of 26,575. The fall 1999 figure reflects the second largest enrollment figure in University history. The highest enrollment figure was set in 1991, when 27,901 students enrolled for the fall semester.

Contributing to the total enrollment picture was a 9 percent increase in graduate enrollment and a 6 percent increase in the number of student credit hours. Transfer enrollment remained steady.

WMU Dean of Admissions John Fraire noted that an important ingredient to the freshman class size was the number of top students who have enrolled in the University's Lee Honors College.

"Joseph Reish, dean of the Lee Honors College, has informed me that this year's incoming class is the second largest in that college's history and it is the class with the highest academic profile," said Fraire. "The average GPA and ACT of the Honors College entering class are 3.9 and 28, respectively. Clearly we are attracting not only more students, but better students as well."

Fraire also noted that the increase in graduate enrollment defies the traditional wisdom that during times of strong economic growth, prospective graduate students choose to remain working rather than seek an advanced degree.

"Much credit for this increase in new graduate enrollment must be given to the Division of Continuing Education and the directors of Western's various regional centers," he said. "A major portion of our new transfer and graduate enrollment are off-campus and non-traditional students who are registered through the regional centers."

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 616 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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