(Ashland, Ore) Southern Oregon University will welcome what could be a record-setting new class this week. Official totals from the Oregon University System won’t be known until mid-November, but early registrations and new student housing contracts are very encouraging.
In her opening remarks to faculty and staff this morning, SOU President Mary Cullinan noted that “SOU’s enrollment will be impressive this fall. However, we need to remember that we’ve been making steady increases-last year’s enrollment and retention numbers were also strong. Last spring, our headcount was almost 6% over the previous spring’s. Our retention rate has been improving for three years now. And Fall 2009 was the most diverse fall term in SOU history.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs James Klein said SOU has been working hard to increase enrollment. “We’ve simplified the transfer process for students at a growing number of community colleges in our region,” says Klein. “We’ve also extended WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) scholarships to California students who are having trouble with affordability and access in their home state due to the California budget crisis.”
As a result, the number of new transfer students is on track to be the largest in SOU’s history, and the number of California students could also be the biggest ever. Early registration in other categories is also up including new freshmen, graduate students, continuing students, students who had stopped out but are returning, and Hispanic students.
It’s especially good news for student housing. “We could be looking at the most students living on campus in almost two decades,” says Director of Residential Education and Services Jason Ebbeling. “We still have room, but we’re getting very close to full.” New student move in day is Thursday, September 23.
New academic programs are also very popular. For the first time this fall, SOU will offer a bachelor’s degree in outdoor adventure leadership. The School of Business is offering a new one-year master’s in business administration program and a master’s of applied science in management at the Higher Education Center in Medford, as well as a master’s in management program at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.
New students will be busy. Orientation is Friday, September, 24, the home football opener for the nationally-ranked Raiders is Saturday, September 25, community service projects, a downtown Ashland scavenger hunt and outdoor activities for new students are Sunday, September 26, and the new fall term begins Monday, September 27.