Winter break is over, students are back at Ferris State University, and school officials are reporting strong enrollment numbers for the spring semester of 2011.
System wide, enrollment increased 2.98 percent with 13,543 students enrolled this spring compared to 13,151 last spring, an increase of 392 students. On the Big Rapids campus, enrollment increased by 1.6 percent with 9,321 students enrolled compared to 9,172, an increase of 149 students.
“What these numbers reflect is that, system wide, Ferris remains very strong as an institution,” said Dan Burcham, vice president for Student Affairs. “That strength is not necessarily reflected in any one area. In looking at the numbers, it is evident that a number of areas at the university continue to show steady growth and strength.”
Burcham’s comments were echoed by Fritz Erickson, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. Erickson believes Ferris’ commitment to tailoring its programs to fit the changing needs of its students and the economy has made it, and continues to make it, attractive to students and to industry.
“We are delighted to see continued growth in so many of our career-oriented programs,” said Erickson. “Our graduates get great jobs and have a direct economic impact on Michigan's economy.”
Reflecting the university’s overall growth, the College of Arts and Sciences experienced a 12 percent increase in enrollment during the last year. Reinhold Hill, interim CAS dean, credits the college’s “strong emphasis on student success” for the positive enrollment growth experienced during the last year.
“Our faculty and staff work hard to ensure that students not only gain the knowledge, skills and experiences they need for successful careers and continuing study, but also learn the sometimes complicated process of navigating through a degree program,” he said.
Hill also cited recent investments in staff advisors, whose primary role is to assist students in completing their degrees on time, as contributing to strong enrollment growth.
Online learning remains an area of continued growth at Ferris with 642 students enrolled in online coursework compared to 432 last spring with online student credit hours totaling 12,805, a 17.2 percent increase over 2010 figures. The College of Allied Health Sciences experienced a 52 percent growth in students enrolled in online courses with 536 students enrolled this spring compared to 352 last spring. “We have excellent offerings for our online students and a lot of exciting programs,” Burcham said. “That combination has helped to make Ferris a welcoming environment for students who are interested in online education.”
The total off-campus enrollment, through the Ferris Statewide network of locations, is up 50 students from 2,182 in the spring of 2010 to 2,232 this spring. Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids enrolled 1,348 students this spring compared to 1,365 last spring.
By race and ethnicity, Ferris officials report an 87 percent increase in students of “two or more races,” a 34 percent increase in foreign students and a 23 percent increase in Hispanic students.
Ferris State University is a four-year public university with campuses in Big Rapids, Grand Rapids and satellite campuses across the state. Ferris offers more than 170 educational programs, including doctorates, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, through nine academic colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Michigan College of Optometry, Pharmacy, Engineering Technology, Kendall College of Art and Design, and the College of Professional and Technological Studies. Ferris also has a University College that provides students with instruction in study skills, reading, career exploration and features an Honors Program.