Metro-East News

Enrollment strong at metro-east’s four-year universities; SWIC shrinks

McKendree University sophomore business administration major Justus Smith takes notes during a principles of financial accounting class taught by accounting instructor Terese Kasson, CPA.
McKendree University sophomore business administration major Justus Smith takes notes during a principles of financial accounting class taught by accounting instructor Terese Kasson, CPA. News-Democrat

The metro-east’s four-year universities report strong enrollment, while Southwestern Illinois College saw a decline in the number of new students signing up for classes.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville went up about 500 students, while SWIC declined by about the same number.

▪ SIUE reports 11,781 students enrolled for the fall semester. That’s 3 percent, or 552 students, more than last year.

▪ Lindenwood University-Belleville interim president Brett Barger said 1,460 students are enrolled at the school for the fall semester, and 1,070 are living on campus. That’s an increase of 140 from 1,320 for the fall semester in 2014.

▪ McKendree University won’t have its official numbers for a couple of days. But as of Thursday, the “unofficial” head count on campus stood at 2,995, compared with 3,200 last year when the incoming freshman class set a record. However, school leaders said this year’s enrollment is still expected to be the one of the largest in the school’s 187-year history.

▪ SWIC, with campuses in Belleville, Granite City and Red Bud, saw its enrollment decrease from 10,545 students last year to 9,943 for the fall semester.

SWIC spokesman Jim Haverstick said the decrease in enrollment has more to do with the economy than with competing with Lindenwood for Belleville-area students.

“To help put our numbers in perspective, overall community college enrollment is down across the country due to declining high school enrollments and adults returning to the workforce as the economy and unemployment improve,” Haverstick said.

Barger said Lindenwood markets itself globally and draws students from countries around the globe, not only the metro-east or Midwest.

“We’re excited to have growth again this year,” Barger said. “The process has already begun to recruit the next freshman class.”

Barger said Lindenwood-Belleville’s current student body includes people from 40 countries and 39 states.

SIUE leaders attributed their growth to efforts to constantly try to make the school better.

“Higher education is constantly evolving, and so is SIUE,” said Scott Belobrajdic, associate vice chancellor for enrollment and management. “Our chancellor, provost and deans have been willing to risk and invest in new academic programs, new delivery methods and new retention initiatives to provide students the education they want and need.

“During the past few years, we have experienced increased interest in our traditional residential experience, our online options for working professionals and our opportunities for international students. Our deans constantly present great innovative ideas,” Belobrajdic added.

SIUE interim chancellor Stephen Hansen said he’s happy to see the effort paying off with results.

“We are extremely pleased with our enrollment growth,” Hansen said. “It reflects the fact that SIUE provides an excellent environment that enables students to learn and to grow.”

McKendree president James Dennis said he is happy with the size of the school’s student body and is especially pleased with the quality of students. He told the class of 2019 during opening convocation that he expects big things from them.

“You have arrived at McKendree as achievers and should be proud of your accomplishments,” Dennis said. “But now that you are here, it’s time to hit the reset button. You are all starting fresh and everything you do from here on is up to you.”

According to school records, 73 percent of McKendree first-year students have received an academic scholarship; half of them graduated in the top 20 percent of their high school class and many were valedictorians. Collectively, the Class of 2019 has an average grade point of 3.5 and an average ACT composite score of 24. About 13 percent have an alumni connection to McKendree through a parent, grandparent or sibling.

While 69 percent of the freshman class are from Illinois, others hail from Missouri, Texas, Indiana, California and Florida. First-year international first-students have arrived from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

More McKendree students are living in campus housing than ever before—93 percent of freshmen and 56 percent of transfers.

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