By Karl Terry: PNT managing editor
Eastern New Mexico University’s enrollment for the fall semester in Portales is about the same as last year. In the world of higher education these days, that’s seen as a big success.
“Fortunately we’ve had a very good late registration,” ENMU President Steven Gamble told regents Thursday at their regular meeting a day prior to getting the official head-count. “It’s saved our proverbial bacon as far as enrollment.”
Gamble reported late Friday that enrollment was up slightly in head-count over last year with a total of 4,180 students. Last year 4,136 were registered.
Semester credit hours were down from last year, but not as much as the university had been expecting. Last year ENMU generated 44,710 semester credit hours. This year it has been logged at 44,522, Gamble said.
Gamble reminded regents last year was a bad year for the university but other institutions are experiencing a continued decline this year.
“Equalling last year is not great, but it’s a whole lot better than doing worse,” Gamble said.
Gamble says enrollment is soft because of low unemployment that sends potential students straight into the job market.
Locally, he says numbers are down substantially with Cannon Air Force Base undergoing a transition. Gamble said ENMU has normally had an average of 70 service personnel or spouses enrolled each semester, but it’s approximately 20 this year.
Clovis Community College officials reported last week that CAFB related students that have made up as much as a fourth of the college’s enrollment has dropped to just 7.7 percent of total enrollment. CCC is expecting a drop of close to 7 percent in total enrollment from last year.
“We’re doing what we know to do to keep us in the game until Cannon rebounds,” Gamble said.
The base’s numbers are expected to dip further as the mission shifts to Air Force Special Operations but could rebound to a level that could equal or exceed its best years in eastern New Mexico.
On the bright side, Gamble says the school’s retention rate has rebounded much closer to its average after a sharp dip last year.
“I think the credit goes to our recruit-ion and faculty doing a great job,” Regent Marshall Stinnett said. “It really has to do with staff, maintenance, everything. It’s just teamwork. If you look at what’s going on around us it’s pretty sad.”
“It seems like half of my life I spend waiting for times to get better,” Gamble said. “This is one of those times.”
Unofficial enrollment for ENMU Portales at state-mandated reporting date for 2006 and 2007
• Fall 2007 Student enrollment — 4,180
• Fall 2007 semester credit hours — 44,522
• Fall 2006 student enrollment — 4,136
• Fall 2006 semester credit hours — 44,710
Source: ENMU President’s office