SIU Reports Slight Increase in Enrollment


By Amy Fox
By Andy Shofstall

CARBONDALE -- Stopping a steep drop in student numbers has been top priority at SIU for years.   Tuesday, administrators reported success. Total enrollment this fall is 17,989. That's a slight increase of 25 students from last year. But it's still a far cry from the 21,500 students on the Carbondale campus ten years ago.

University administrators are happy with the numbers. They credit this fall's increase to a variety of factors. But, they admit there's still a lot more work to be done.

Enrollment numbers seem like an unlikely problem when you hear current students talk about SIU.

SIU freshman Chris Izzo said, "My brother attended here for his freshman and sophomore year, and I came down here and visited and I fell in love."

"I was really just looking around at schools and then, what sold me was when I actually visited the campus, this is exactly what I envisioned college, it's perfect for me," said Kristin Thornton, SIU freshman.

But for the past 10 years, SIU has been struggling to recruit and retain students. Just from 2010 to 2012 for example, enrollment dropped by nearly 1,200 

And things got worse in 2013, when overall enrollment fell below 18,000 students

But this fall, the university has finally stopped the bleeding.

SIU Interim Chancellor Paul Sarvela said, "A 25 student increase. It's relatively flat, but it's reason to celebrate. This is the first time we haven't had a decline in ten years."

Another reason to celebrate, according to interim chancellor Paul Sarvela, freshmen enrollment is up again by nearly 2.5 percent.

"Enrollment improvements are related to our strategic outreach, a growing reputation, and our strong academic programs tied to our university's mission of research," said Sarvela. Remember, students come here to study in their programs."

The university also notes increases in transfer students and off-campus enrollment, as well as a 25 percent rise in international students.

As SIU administrators look toward the future, they hope to keep this turnaround going, attracting more students, like Kristin Thornton, so they can tell their story.

Thornton said, "I'm really glad that I came here."

SIU administrators credit a new branding and marketing focus for the slight rise in enrollment. More details on the fall numbers will be released later this week.



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