By Tony Parra
Eastern New Mexico University Board of Regents members were told Friday enrollment at the Portales campus topped 4,000 for the first time since 1975.
According to university officials, 4,052 students enrolled at ENMU for the fall semester. The fall enrollment is up 2.3 percent from the 2004 fall headcount, which was 3,959.
In 1975 there were 4,248 students.
“Any kind of growth is good,” Steven Gamble, Eastern New Mexico University president, said. “This is what I would call minimum growth.”
Fall enrollment has increased each year since 1997 when there were 3,495 students.
“We’re doing well on all three campuses,” Marshall Stinnett, ENMU Board of Regents president, said. “We have a lot to celebrate and a lot to be proud of.”
Included in the enrollment figures was a drop in first-time freshman, from 576 in fall of 2004 to 558 in 2005.
Higher academic standards may be the cause for lower first-time freshman numbers for the fall semester, Gamble said.
Regents raised freshman academic standards in 2005. In previous years an ACT score of 17 or higher or a grade-point average of 2.25 or higher was required. Freshman are now required to have an ACT score of 17 or higher or a GPA of 2.5 or higher.
“We anticipated a drop in those numbers because of the higher admission standards,” Gamble said. “The reason for the higher admission standard numbers was to eliminate the bottom 10 percent.”
Gamble is hopeful the higher academic standards will help the freshman retention rate. Retention rate is the percentage of the number of students who return to college the following year after their freshman year.
The retention rate has been declining at least 1 percent (five to 10 students) each year for the last three years.
Also at Friday’s meeting, ENMU Foundation President Stephen Doerr told regents the foundation has raised more than $1.5 million for scholarships, meal and administration expenses since last fall. There are two parts of the foundation scholarship budget, unrestricted monies, which can be used by any student in any field and restricted monies, which the donor has earmarked to certain qualifying students or fields.
A big chunk of expenses for the unrestricted budget is $80,000 for Starter Scholarships for freshman.
ENMU Foundation along with ENMU officials began awarding the Starter Scholarships in the 1997 fall semester with $101,790 divided among 174 students.