By Tony Parra
Eastern New Mexico University continues the trend of rise in enrollment with 3,959 students for the fall semester, the biggest enrollment number since 1993 when there were 3,973 students and the second highest number in the last 20 years, according to an ENMU press release.
ENMU’s enrollment had dipped from 3,973 students in the fall of 1993 to 3,495 in the fall of 1997, a 12 percent nosedive. However, since 1997 the number has jumped from 3,495 to 3,959 students this year, an 11 percent increase.
“A lot of it is because the word is out to prospective students,” ENMU president Steven Gamble said about the increase. “It’s (ENMU) a strong academic institution with a quality faculty and staff that really cares. People understand how affordable we are.”
The enrollment number increased 6.3 percent from 3,725 in the fall of 2003. There was an increase from 701 graduate students in the fall of 2003 to 718 this year and the increase of undergraduates went from 3,024 to 3,241.
“The increase from the fall of 2002 to the fall of 2003 was because of graduate students,” Gamble said. “In 2004 it was mostly undergrad students.”
Jude Garcia was one of those undergraduate students who chose ENMU over the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University. Garcia, a freshman, lived in Santo Domingo Pueblo, a town which is a 30-minute drive from Santa Fe. He chose ENMU over UNM because of tuition costs and over NMSU because of distance. Family was also a reason.
“I chose it (ENMU) mostly because my sister came here,” Garcia said. “I’m used to small places.”
For freshman Kyla Graham, her choices came down to Texas State University in San Marcos, University of Texas in Austin and West Texas University in Canyon. Graham said the determining factor between West Texas and ENMU was cost. Graham, a student from Friona, Texas, was also able to take advantage of the 135-mile rule which allows Texas high school students living within 135 miles of Portales to pay in-state tuition. She said she liked the education program ENMU has to offer and wants to go into secondary education.
Gamble said he was pleased with the ACT scores, also. The number of students who scored a 20 or higher on the ACTs went up from 237 to 253. Another increase Gamble was pleased with was the increase of total semester credit hours from 43,398 to 45,454.
“They (the state) base all of their funding on semester credit hours,” Gamble said. “It’s been since before 1994 since that number has been so high. It’s the best sign of all.”
The number of students in residence halls also increased from 852 to 875. Gamble believes all of the numbers are good news for the university.
“I don’t see any downside to the numbers,” Gamble said. “We hope the trend continues. We want to work hard to continue the trend.”