Enrollment numbers show improvement over fall semester

Nicholas Birdsong

Washburn currently has positive news for its enrollment numbers.

The number of incoming students increased 4.9 percent over the previous year as of Feb. 4. Total credit hours have increased by 3 percent. The rise in enrollment comes on the heels of an 8.7 percent gain for the fall.

Administration and faculty welcome the news as new student growth had been on the decline for three years prior to the fall semester. The 2010-2011 school year marks a significant reversal in the university’s previous admissions trend.

“There continues to be a lot of hard work and efforts from a lot of different individuals across Washburn’s campus,” said Richard Liedtke, executive director of enrollment management. “It’s the faculty, it’s the staff, and it’s the students. Everybody working together is a part of that overall success. If any one of those components isn’t there, then it is hard to see enrollment growth. “

Liedtke said friendly faculty, welcoming students, and a successful outreach program were a few of the many elements that contributed to the university’s success.

One possible concern over the growing size of the student body is increasing class sizes. Continued increases in the number of students will mean additional revenue for the university.

These additional funds coming in will allow growth in new programs, additional faculty and additional money for student government, according to Liedtke.

“If enrollment goes up enough we are going to have to hire new faculty,” said Liedtke. “We don’t want to grow our class sizes like a few other universities next to us. We are going to maintain our class sizes.”

Washburn University maintains a 15:1 student to faculty ratio. In comparison, Kansas State University has a 19:1 ratio and the University of Kansas is 20:1. Washburn utilizes the small class size to draw students with promises of personalized attention and a supportive educational atmosphere.

The university admissions office sets goals for enrollment each year. In the wake of this most recent year, Washburn is set to meet goals again. As of mid-January, approximately 1,300 new students had applied with goals set around 1,400 for Fall 2011.

“This is my third year here and I’ve seen some big changes for the better,” said Priscilla Samarripa, admissions counselor at Washburn. “We are making more relationships, building on those relationships and having conversations that we didn’t have in the past. I think that we are going to reach our goal. That is definitely what we are all hoping for.”