Mississippi sees record high enrollment
Southern Miss notes largest freshman class in school history, Ole Miss becomes largest state univers
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 00:09
This year, Mississippi’s public universities are enrolling more students than ever before, and the University of Southern Mississippi gained a record-breaking sized freshman class, according to preliminary fall enrollment figures from the Institutions of Higher Learning.
A total of 457 more students than last year were enrolled in Mississippi’s eight public universities this fall.
However, despite the largest freshman class Southern Miss has ever had, overall enrollment at the university decreased by 0.8 percent, or 133 students, from fall 2011.
In a story by University Communications, officials at USM attributed the decrease in overall enrollment numbers to the closure of both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses during Hurricane Isaac in August.
In the story, Vice President of Student Affairs Joe Paul focused on the larger-than-ever freshman class, saying he is excited about the increase. Freshmen numbers have clocked in at more than 1,900 new students for the fall 2012 semester, continuing a five-year record streak.
“We’re pleased to see more freshmen choosing Southern Miss for their higher education needs,” Paul said. “We offer a wide variety of quality academic programs, supportive faculty and staff and a beautiful campus that add up to make the perfect environment for a student to learn and grow as a person.”
According to IHL, system-wide enrollment has increased annually since 1994.
With five universities (Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women and Southern Miss) seeing overall decreases, a boosted enrollment at other schools contributed to the state’s higher overall numbers.
Ole Miss now has the most undergraduates in the state, seeing an increase of 569 students at the main campus in Oxford and 135 at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
Delta State University and Mississippi Valley State University also saw an increase of 3.5 percent, collectively.
Although the increase is small, Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds said it is still impressive.
“This enrollment increase is smaller than the increases we have seen over the past few years, but having more than 80,000 students enrolled is still great news for our students and our state,” Bounds said. “Our students understand that the key to a better tomorrow begins with earning a college degree.”