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Enrollment gains spurred by new freshmen, grad students

Sept. 12, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University has an overall growth in enrollment this fall of 1.6 percent, primarily the result of a large 8.8 percent boost in the number of new freshmen and healthy increases in its graduate student numbers.

The official fall 2008 enrollment count for WMU is 24,818, an increase of 385 students over last year's total student count. Beginning freshmen hit 3,870, an increase of 314 over last year's beginning freshman class. The numbers reflect the University's official fall census conducted
Sept. 9.

The number of master's level students increased by 195 or 5.8 percent, and the number of doctoral students is up by 43 or 5.2 percent. Strong graduate enrollment at WMU branch campuses drove those increases, with the greatest gains at the Battle Creek, Grand Rapids Beltline and Southwest campuses.

"We've been watching the numbers and listening to families all summer, and we knew our growth would be strong," says WMU President John M. Dunn. "It wasn't until we saw the final census count, however, that we began to uncover the wealth of good news this year's enrollment data reflect.

"In addition to strong freshman and graduate student numbers, we have major increases of 10.5 percent in our minority student population and 15.2 percent in our international student body. This is important news for us because it reflects the ethnic and cultural qualities so important to a great multifaceted research university like ours."

Minority enrollment increased by 288 students to 3,030, with more than half of that increase among African American students. International student enrollment is 1,114, showing its first significant increase since 2001.

This year is the first year of the Seita Scholarship program which is designed to provide tuition and a support network for young people who have aged out of foster care. The fall enrollment tally includes 51 Seita Scholars.

As in other recent years, the University experienced phenomenal growth in the number of students taking online courses. This fall 2,287 students are taking such courses. Many of them are also enrolled in regular courses at either the main campus or one of WMU's six branch campuses.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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