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IU Northwest fall enrollment hits record high, topping 6,000 students

Record achieved despite new academic regulations that challenged students


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Emily Banas
Office of Marketing and Communications

Erika Rose
Office of Marketing and Communications

Indiana University Northwest announced this week that its enrollment figures have reached a new all-time high with the 2011 student census, surpassing the 6,000 mark.

The official 6,035 enrollment figure represents a 1.1 percent increase over last year’s enrollment of 5,969 students. Credit hours are down a scant .5 percent, at 61,565, according to the official report released by Indiana University. This marks the second consecutive year, and just the second year overall, in which registered credit hours topped 61,000 at IU’s Northwest campus. 

IU Northwest is among five IU campuses that experienced record numbers, contributing to a historic high mark for the eight-campus IU system, which topped 110,000 students.

“Our record enrollment for Fall Semester 2011 demonstrates, once again, that our campus continues to build upon the sustained growth in recruitment and retention that began four years ago,” said IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe. “At that time, our campus community resolved on a plan to enroll 6,000 students by Fall Semester 2013. Today, thanks to the fine work and careful planning by faculty and staff colleagues across the campus, IU Northwest has achieved that goal two years ahead of schedule.”

IU Northwest’s fourth consecutive year of increased enrollment came amid recruitment and retention challenges posed by new state and federal requirements for new and returning students.

At the state level, 2011 is the first year that students are required to have earned a Core 40 diploma, in order to attend an Indiana four-year public college or university. And new federal financial aid requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) threatened to impact students who receive Pell Grants. Approximately 54 percent of IU Northwest undergraduates are Pell Grant recipients.

“We were able to turn this potentially disruptive change in the federal financial aid regulation into a successful retention initiative,” Chancellor Lowe said. “Our Office of Retention Initiatives assisted many at-risk students in navigating the SAP appeals process and understanding their options and their responsibilities under the new guidelines. This is one of a variety of retention programs that has contributed substantively to our strong enrollment and, most importantly, to our students’ rates of persistence toward degree completion.”

Vice Chancellor for Student Services Diane Hodges agreed that retention initiatives play a significant role in maintaining enrollment in a challenging economic and academic environment. Programs like the New Student Success Program, learning communities and increased attention to the needs of transfer students count among IU Northwest’s efforts to help students succeed, she said.

“Over the last several years, the campus has paid ever-increasing attention to the whole concept of retention and persistence for our students,” Hodges said. “We are working really hard with our academic advising to make sure students are getting more quality attention to how they are progressing toward the goal of graduation.

“We want students to come here and have a positive experience both inside and outside the classroom. That is the foundation for retention,” Hodges explained. “We have smaller class sizes being taught by full-time faculty members in most cases, and students have an opportunity to get involved in co-curricular experiences with over 90 clubs. Students can find things that keep them engaged in campus life. Retention is a foundation.”

IU Northwest began the 2011 fall semester logistically prepared to accommodate yet another year of record enrollment, according to Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs David Malik, Ph.D.

“The deans and program directors have done an awesome job to ensure that adequate sections and space have been available for addressing this growth,” Malik said. “Faculty are accommodating new modes of course delivery, including access by less traditional sources such as online options and dual credit options for high school students. We continue to review other innovative methods for improving our environment for student success."

Director of Admissions Linda Templeton said the campus community has worked diligently to make IU Northwest a popular choice for Northwest Indiana residents, and added that she is thrilled to have achieved the “6,000 by 2013” goal two years earlier than planned.

“We offer flexible class times and academic programs that are in demand, and we have faculty and staff members who really care about the academic and personal success of our students. In fact, our current students are often our best recruiters for that reason,” Templeton said.

Chancellor Lowe gave credit for the achievement to the collective effort of many campus departments and individuals working toward a common purpose.

“I offer sincerest thanks and congratulations to my colleagues in Academic Affairs, Admissions, Student Services, Retention Initiatives, and External Relations, as well as all of our outstanding faculty and staff members who make IU Northwest such a distinctive and rewarding campus for the students we serve,” he said.