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NMSU sees increased enrollment, record number of freshmen

The third-largest freshman class in the last 20 years is part of a more than two percent increase in total student enrollment for the fall 2006 semester at New Mexico State University.

ear, we had a 3 percent decline from the previous year," said William McCarthy, who served as interim associate provost for student success and academic programs, noting the hard work of his team in recruitment and retention.

As of Monday, 16,264 students had enrolled for this fall, including 2,085 first-time freshmen.

"The enrollment is a true testament to the hard work of everyone at New Mexico State University," said NMSU President Michael Martin. "We want to recognize the entire team, under the leadership of William McCarthy and Bernadette Montoya. Faculty, staff and students have done a stellar job to deliver these results. Our work isn't done, but this is a great launching point."

McCarthy said the jump can be attributed to several factors, such as the university's public image.

"I think New Mexico State has been doing a better job of marketing itself," McCarthy said. "I think we are making sure that people understand more of what New Mexico State is about and the programs we offer."

He pointed out an increased effort to maintain communication with prospective students by Enrollment Management, but said individual colleges have also made the extra effort.

"They have really put it on the line, so to speak," he said. "They've tried to hire recruiters, if they have the resources. They've tried to make an extra point of visiting high school campuses to talk up their programs and to talk up New Mexico State University.

"So, you see we have a presence around the state, not only from our own recruiters who are out there beating the bushes, but also from our faculty and department heads and so on. Even deans are going out there and talking to students to make sure they understand what their programs are about and what New Mexico State University is about."

A closer look at the numbers finds big gains in first-time freshmen in the individual colleges. For example, the College of Engineering has an almost 30 percent increase in freshman, while the College of Agriculture and Home Economics' freshmen class jumped more than 20 percent.

There were almost across the board gains in ethnic groups, the largest being a more than five percent increase in Native American students.

"We're starting to attract a very diverse group of students," McCarthy said. "I think, in the end, it will play very well for us that we're being looked more and more upon by everyone as their university of choice, the university they really want to come to."

However, the largest growth area for NMSU was in Distance Education, which saw a more than 48 percent increase.

"Distance Education is a growing area, but it's one area that's still not fully tapped," McCarthy said. "We can do a lot more in the area of distance education, but it's still a very healthy climb from what it was a year ago. It's one area that's meeting the needs of the students out there."

He added the increased numbers in distance education are further proof of how the university is fulfilling the land-grant mission.

"We're serving the needs of students by offering quality programs that are attractive to a wide variety of students," McCarthy said. "If they are college ready, we want them to be a part of the NMSU family. We take pride in our ability to educate all our students from the brightest to those, like myself, who have had to fight to achieve their grades, to produce graduates who have reached the pinnacle of success and productivity. If you are willing to make the effort we will be there for you."

"That's meeting the needs of our state," he said.

Victor Venegas
September 8, 2006