JSU Reaches Highest Enrollment Ever
For perhaps the first time in her tenure as Jacksonville State University's vice president for academic and student affairs, Dr. Rebecca Turner gladly stands corrected.
In an April 2007 presentation to the university's board of trustees, Turner projected a Fall 2008 enrollment of 9,420.
This week, not only did JSU exceed Turner's projection by 61 students, the final fall headcount-- 9,481-- is the university's highest enrollment ever.
"JSU is delighted with its largest enrollment ever," Turner said upon receiving the count. "Our faculty and staff are stretching their resources as far as they will go to ensure that our students' needs are met."
This record-setting tally exceeds JSU's previous high enrollment of 9,110 (Fall 2005) by 371, and is 404 greater than last year's enrollment of 9,077, for an overall enrollment increase of 4.5%.
This places the University back on track to reach University President Dr. William A. Meehan's goal of an enrollment of 10,000 by 2010.
"Of course we are very pleased at this year's significant increase, and we appreciate the faculty, staff and students who contributed to our growth and made it happen," said Meehan.
He credits strong effort on the part of recruiters, high quality of the university's programs, and the faculty and staff's success in implementing the university's strategic plan as just a few of the major factors contributing to the enrollment surge. Adopted in January 2007, JSU's strategic plan identifies a university-wide goal to "create a diverse learning community that facilitates academic and professional excellence."
A significant portion of this fall's enrollment boost is due to growth in JSU's Distance Education program. This year's distance education headcount of 3,234 reflects a 12% increase over last year. Meehan said this substantial rise reaffirms that distance education is a market very important to the growth of JSU.
"We want to continue to be a traditional campus, but we also want to serve the needs of our non-traditional students in Northeast Alabama, a demographic that is experiencing explosive growth," he said.
Jacksonville State University offers 17 online degree and certificate programs via distance education. Of all distance education courses, 81% are taught by full-time faculty.
Another major increase this fall originated across the state line. The number of students from Georgia attending JSU grew by 262, a 24% increase.
Although there was a slight decrease in the number of first-time freshmen this year (1,299, down three from last year), first-time transfers were up five percent, for a total of 714. Undergraduates make up 83% of the student body this fall, and graduate students comprise the remaining 17%. There was a slight shift in the gender ratio this year, as well, as the percentage of males rose by two percent, to 42%.
The College of Nursing and the College of Education and Professional Studies experienced the highest increases in enrollment, with eight percent growth in each. In the College of Arts and Sciences enrollment increased by six percent, followed by a two percent increase in the College of Commerce and Business Administration. The number of undecided majors decreased by 17%.
JSU's budget appropriation from the State of Alabama was cut by almost $5 million for 2008-2009, forcing the University to increase tuition for the first time in two years. JSU's undergraduate tuition remains under the average for four-year public Alabama institutions at $5,700 (mean is $5,729), and JSU's undergraduate tuition is ranked sixth out of 13 four-year public Alabama institutions (below the median). JSU's graduate tuition remains at the average for four-year public Alabama institutions, and is ranked fifth out of 13 four-year public Alabama institutions.
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