Eastern New Mexico University is often a source of “good news” for the region and two recent items are especially worth noting.
On Sept. 13, ENMU President Steven Gamble announced student enrollment is up slightly from a year ago. “Given our demographic conditions, this is a minor miracle,” Gamble said.
And then last Saturday, the ENMU football team ran its record to 3-0 for the first time in four years with a 49-13 drubbing of East Central (Okla.) University.
Enrollment went from 4,136 students for the fall 2006 semester to 4,180 this fall, Gamble told ENMU’s Board of Regents last week.
While total semester credit hours are down slightly — less than 1 percent — from a year ago, both statistics were a pleasant surprise given the transition in progress at Cannon Air Force Base.
Gamble said Cannon normally provides about 70 students a semester, but only about 20 with direct Cannon ties enrolled this fall.
By contrast, Clovis Community College reported earlier this month that its enrollment is down almost 7 percent from a year ago. CCC officials attribute the drop to fewer personnel at Cannon and the region’s low unemployment rate.
ENMU Regent Marshall Stinnett attributed the Portales university’s success to recruiting efforts and a strong faculty. “It really has to do with staff, maintenance, everything. It’s just teamwork,” he said.
And speaking of teamwork, the Greyhounds football team continues to surprise its opponents. Eastern finished 3-7 last season and was picked in a summer preseason poll to finish last in the Lone Star Conference’s South Division.
Instead, the ’Hounds keep barking at the pollsters. They have outscored their three opponents 126-43, literally running over Bacone College and ECU with a much-improved backfield led by senior quarterback Michael Benton.
ENMU also set a single-game rushing record with 512 yards against Bacone College on Aug. 25, and rushed last week for 488 yards against ECU.
The season is still young and the ’Hounds will still be heavy underdogs when they square off against preseason favorite Abilene Christian and defending champ West Texas A&M.
But it’s been nothing but good news so far for the ENMU faithful.