OXFORD, Miss. – For 13 consecutive years, the University of Mississippi has broken enrollment records, but when this fall’s preliminary enrollment reached 18,344 students, a sense of excitement began spreading across the Oxford campus.
Preliminary enrollment figures show UM’s total unduplicated headcount represents 743 more students enrolled this fall than last on all its campuses, a 4.2 percent increase.
“We like to think this milestone – growing to 18,000-plus students – is because college-bound students are learning that the University of Mississippi is the place to go if you want to experience amazing opportunities,” said Morris Stocks, UM provost.
“Think about it. How many universities hosted a presidential debate last year? How many universities produced Rhodes, Truman, Gates and Marshall scholars last year? We also have a wide array of diverse academic degree programs that appeal to top students, and we enable hundreds to study abroad each year. These achievements, in concert with extremely affordable tuition, make Ole Miss a tremendous academic and economic value.”
UM has been focusing its enrollment efforts on two fronts: strengthening access to Mississippians and continuing to attract students with high academic and leadership abilities. This year’s enrollment gains reflect both, said Dan Jones, UM chancellor.
“We’ve not only enrolled our largest class of new freshmen but also our largest class of honors students and our most diverse student body,” Jones said. “We have also recorded a 64.8 percent increase in Booneville and 57.5 percent increase in Grenada, where we’ve added education classes, so more residents have access to our academic programs.”
The Oxford campus welcomed 2,576 new freshmen, an 8.4 percent increase over last fall. Among them are 36 National Merit and National Achievement finalists, and 12 National Merit and National Achievement semifinalists, said Max Miller, associate director of enrollment services.
The average ACT score of UM’s freshmen this fall is 23.3, up from last fall’s 23.
UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College has enrolled 860 students, up from 780 last fall. Among them are a record 283 freshmen (including 44 high school valedictorians), who recorded a median ACT score of 30.
“The growth of the SMBHC has been phenomenal,” said John Samonds, the college’s associate dean. “We’re excited that so many high-performing students are choosing Ole Miss to participate in the honors college.”
Preliminary figures also indicate that 3,909 (21.3 percent) of UM’s 18,344 students are minorities (an increase of 400 students, or 11.4 percent over last fall). In addition, 2,776 (15.1 percent) of its students are African-American (an increase of 315 students, or 12.8 percent, over last fall).
UM requires its freshmen to live in residence halls. Had it not opened its new 465-bed residential college this fall, the university would be struggling to house all the students wanting to live on campus.
A record 2,412 students are enrolled at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, which has expanded the size of its first-year medical class, and has added the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and a degree program in radiologic sciences.
“We would like to grow the (first-year) class to 150 over the next few years, and the new Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is the hottest thing going in nursing,” said UMMC spokesman Tom Fortner.
The largest enrollment increase in an academic program (11.4 percent, or 112 students) occurred in the School of Education, probably due to expansion of its programs in Booneville and Grenada. Graduate School enrollment across campuses also rose to 2,062, up 10.6 percent, or 197 students.
The largest enrollment increase on the Oxford campus occurred in the School of Applied Sciences, which admitted the first cohort of students to its Center for Intelligence and Security Studies program. During their orientation session before classes began, the students worked a fictional case of international terrorism.
Led by Carl Jensen, a former special agent for the FBI, the “Day of Intrigue” enabled students to become familiar with intelligence gathering and the issues analysts face when on assignment.