Eastern New Mexico University will almost certainly break last year’s spring enrollment record, the university president has said.
President Steven Gamble said census day is in two weeks, so enrollment numbers aren’t official yet.
“It looks very good, though,” he said.
Compared to last spring, Gamble expects head counts to be up between 8 and 10 percent and semester credit hours, which determine funding, to be up 7 to 8 percent.
Gamble estimated ENMU would have around 4,700 students this spring, compared to last year’s record spring enrollment of 4,359.
The university broke the 5,000-student mark last fall, but Gamble said administrators compare spring semesters to other spring semesters rather than to fall semesters.
Fall semesters always have a larger enrollment because of incoming freshman, he said. People transfer or flunk out between fall and spring, but there’s no influx of freshmen in the spring as in the fall.
As in past semesters, Gamble credited the enrollment increase to the bad economy in which people go to school because they can’t find work, the university’s good reputation and aggressive recruiting efforts.
Gamble said in the next year or two, people attending college because they didn’t have work may find jobs and no longer be at ENMU.
“I think we’ll see a leveling off of enrollment as the economy truly gets better,” he said.
Also, Gamble noted what he called an interesting phenomenon: The university is enrolling more transfer students than first-time freshmen.
Until five years ago, ENMU had more first-time freshmen.
Now, Gamble said, it has about 200 more transfer students than the first-time freshmen every year, even though the number of first-time freshmen has remained the same.
“I think more students are looking to continue their education beyond community colleges,” he said.
The leading contributors of transfer students are Clovis Community College, New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs and the Roswell and Ruidoso ENMU branches. Gamble said Portales campus personnel have cultivated relationships with those community colleges and developed a reputation for working with transfer students and allowing credits from those institutions.
Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation Executive Director Greg Fisher said ENMU students spend several thousand dollars a year in the community aside from what they spend on campus for books, tuition and so forth.
“Students are here to learn, and they’re also here to live,” he said, adding they make great employees and customers for local businesses.