Oct 5th, 2009 @ 1:53 pm | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley, VCSU President
Thanks to everyone who participated in VCSU Homecoming activities last week. Events included the Athletic Hall of Fame, Alumni Honors Breakfast, Parade, and a variety of other campus activities. It was an inspiring week as we honored a number of alumni for their service, accomplishments, and significant contributions they have made in their college and post-collegiate careers.

Two weeks ago, VCSU announced its Fall 2009 student enrollment. The figures are generally positive and demonstrate growth in a variety of areas. Overall headcount at VCSU for Fall 2009 is 1,083 students, an increase of 6.3% over last fall's 1,019 student enrollment. This increase in students is especially heartening in the wake of last spring's closure of the physical campus during the flood. The increased enrollment shows that the extra efforts of faculty and staff during the summer paid significant dividends ensuring our retention and overall enrollment was not negatively impacted by Mother Nature.

In looking at the past several years, we see 101 more students taking VCSU classes this year compared to the Fall 2007 headcount of 982. This represents a combined growth of 10.3% since 2007. The 1,083 students this fall is the largest institutional headcount posted at VCSU in nearly a decade. During each of the past nine years, our enrollment has fluctuated between 982-1,037 students. Therefore, the nearly 1,100 students this fall represent meaningful and important growth when compared to the trend over the past decade.

The 1,083 headcount figure at VCSU includes both our undergraduate and graduate students. I am pleased to note that our graduate student numbers set a record enrollment for the fifth straight year. There are now 122 Master's students enrolled at VCSU (representing 11.3% of our overall student population).

Another key figure is the number of students living in the residence halls. That figure dipped below 300 students last fall for the first time in four years. However, this year we have 303 students living on-campus in the residence halls, representing a 6.7% increase over Fall 2008.

Pleased as we are with this fall's enrollment picture, the situation is not entirely ideal, and we are not wholly satisfied with the recent figures. An on-going challenge is our enrollment of new freshmen. We have 3.7% fewer freshmen at VCSU this fall compared to one year ago. Growth in other areas (including a 25% increase in transfer students coupled with additional graduate students and part-time students) has offset this slight decrease in new freshmen. New freshmen students must remain a critical part of VCSU's long-term growth strategies. Freshmen are the students who live on-campus, fill our classrooms, use the dining services and other student facilities, add to student life, enhance the community, support our local businesses, etc. Therefore, it is imperative that we continue focusing on this important segment. We have implemented a number of initiatives to attract new freshmen to VCSU. New academic programs, new marketing and recruiting initiatives, new intercollegiate athletic programs, and other activities are all intended to grow our freshmen student enrollment. We look forward to continuing these plans and implementing additional initiatives that will ultimately lead to more students at VCSU and fuel our continued enrollment growth.