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Ferris State University fall enrollment tops 13,000 students

BIG RAPIDS – With students at Ferris State University completing the first week of classes, school officials report more students can be seen filling classroom seats as 13,087 students are attending classes system wide – a record for the University.

The record enrollment represents an increase of 512 students over last fall’s enrollment of 12,575 students.

“These are overwhelmingly positive results for the University,” said Ferris Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel Burcham. “We are very pleased with our gains in both new and continuing students.”

The increase in enrollment is being credited to better communications with prospective students, more funding for financial aid and scholarships, and a changing university culture, according to Burcham and Kristen Salomonson, interim dean of Enrollment Services.

“The quality of our students has never been better,” said Salomonson, noting that this year’s freshmen have the highest ACT scores in University history. “It is a domino effect. When the students are better prepared, you see better classroom discussions and more engaged and involved students.”

The campus is also becoming more diverse, with increasing numbers of African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students enrolling.

Trends indicate that more students are continuing their education at Ferris after their first year as evidenced by a record 70 percent retention rate. Students are also enrolling in more classes, with 158,793 credit hours reported this fall compared to 154,048 last fall, Burcham said.

“We’re very pleased with the continued growth of enrollment and retention levels at Ferris,” said University President David Eisler. “This reflects strong demand on the part of students for the high-quality education we provide.”

Ferris’ Honors Program also has benefited from the more rigorous academic environment. This fall the University has nearly 600 students enrolled in the program, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

“All of this is the result of everyone at the University striving to make Ferris a welcoming and supportive place,” Eisler added.

To foster that success, students are returning to campus with a newly renovated Interdisciplinary Resource Center that boasts 54,700 square-feet of educational space, with an additional 6,000 square-feet of space included in a connector between the facility and College of Business.

Additional attractions for students include Ferris’ new academic programs, such as the Bachelor of Science in Information Security and Intelligence degree at the University’s Grand Rapids campus. The degree bridges the gap between the needs of the security, intelligence and law enforcement communities.

Besides its main campus in Big Rapids, Ferris offers degree programs in Grand Rapids at the Applied Technology Center and Kendall College of Art and Design, and at more than 20 additional locations throughout the state of Michigan.

Enrollment at each University location has experienced growth, with 9,680 students enrolled at the University’s Big Rapids campus, or 194 more students than last fall. There are 2,227 students enrolled at Ferris-Grand Rapids and other sites throughout the state, an increase of 220 students.

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University set its own record enrollment with 1,180 students enrolled, marking the 12th consecutive year of enrollment increases. Kendall experienced growth in the number of freshman and transfer students and is improving student retention rates.

Kendall has added offerings in photography, painting, digital media, sculpture and functional art, art education and metals/jewelry design, as well as a Master of Fine Arts and Master of Art Education. Most recently, Kendall collaborated with Ferris’ College of Business to develop a core of courses in design and innovation management that have become a part of the University’s MBA program.