Southern Arkansas University reported on Friday the highest number of undergraduate students in its 110-year history.
The university had 3,584 undergraduates on the 11th class day of the fall semester – the designated day for official enrollment figures.
SAU said in an announcement that retention rates are an essential factor in enrollment. It placed an increased focus on its Retention and Completion Task Force. SAU heightened its retention efforts by adding mental health counselors, career counseling, additional freshman advisors, and advisors in each college that work to ensure students are on track for graduation.
SAU expanded its early alert efforts and probation and recovery program with extensive interventions to help students stay on track. It revised scholarship retention policy allowing more opportunity for students to retain their scholarships throughout their college career, increasing the likelihood they will graduate.
This fall semester, the university reached the highest freshman retention rate it has achieved in over 20 years. SAU also has the largest senior class than ever before with an 11 percent increase.
Total enrollment for the university is also up to 4,472 – up 4 students from a year ago.
SAU President Dr. Trey Berry said he was elated about enrollment figures.
“Entering my fifth year as president at SAU, I am delighted to see an overall enrollment growth of more than 600 students since fall 2015. During this same time in a challenging recruitment climate, we’ve continued to grow by 12.9 percent in undergraduate enrollment. Every year we are ‘up,’ we celebrate. This year marks some historic enrollment measures, all of which are only possible through the incredible service of our entire campus community and the critical support found within Magnolia and throughout the State of Arkansas. As we often say, ‘it takes all of us, all of the time’ to make SAU the best it can be,” said Dr. Berry.
The number of students living in on-campus housing also reached the most ever at 1,993. Since 2015, SAU has added five new residence halls and purchased an apartment complex. The most recent addition, Arkansas Hall, which opened this year, holds an additional 127 residents and is near capacity. Arkansas Hall is home to the Leadership College living and learning community for freshmen.
SAU’s fall 2018 overall enrollment of 4,468 was a decline from 2017’s 4,647. The prime reasons for the 2017-2018 decline were decreases in international students and students pursuing graduate degrees.
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