Enrollment figures set new SDSU record highs


Ashely Bolstad & Heather Mangan

SDSU has reached record enrollment for the sixth straight year

At 11,021, SDSU had a 0.6 percent increase in enrollment, with a one percent increase in full-time students, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced Oct. 4 in Pierre.

SDSU President Peggy Miller said she doesn’t expect the growth to stop, especially since the university is looking at expanding the nursing and pharmacy programs. Those expansions would encourage more students to attend SDSU, Miller said.

“The growth is likely to continue, and we will have to decide when we don’t have the capacity to grow anymore,” she said.

Assistant Dean of Student Services Doug Wermedal and Vice President Marysz Rames accredit the growth to the strength of SDSU’s academic programs. But along with that are several other factors that give SDSU the full package.

“Success isn’t only one factor, we try to focus on food, the residence halls and student activities along with good classes.” Wermedal said. Rames said, “It’s part of who we are. A lot of folks send their sons and daughters here because they had a good experience.”

Enrollment at SDSU has risen 20 percent in the last five years. According to Assistant Registrar Marlys Strassburg, a steady increase is ideal for any university.

“We are recruiting for a fit, not for numbers,” Wermedal said.

“We are in a great place for where we are,” Rames added. “I think we’re in a situation where we have seen great growth, but I don’t think we’ll see 13,000 plus.”

Besides being the largest state university, SDSU is the leader in other statistics. The university has more first-time freshmen, South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship recipients and Dakota Corps Scholarship recipients than any other public university in the state. Also, 45 percent of SDSU’s first-time-freshman class has an ACT score of 24 or higher.

This fall’s total enrollment for the state’s six public universities, Northern State University, Black Hills State University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Dakota State University, University of South Dakota and SDSU, has risen by nearly three percent, a record enrollment, said Robert T. Tad Perry, executive director for the Board of Regents. The public universities have a total enrollment of 29,844 students.

“We are pleased with the enrollments at the six universities,” he said. “These are record enrollments.”

More students on campus haven’t proved to be a burden for Records and Registration, said Strassburg.

“Obviously, with more students, we have more records to keep, but I think it affects the whole campus that way. It’s just more of what you’re already doing,” Strassburg said.

An increasing number of students attending SDSU has also benefited Brookings as a community.

“It’s a very positive thing for the town, any town with a university is a positive thing,” Strassburg said.

Rames and Wermedal also agreed that a growing SDSU enrollment is good for the community as well as the institution.

“We have a good relationship between ‘town and gown’ (gown referring to graduation apparel),” Wermedal said. “SDSU has been here for 125 years. During that time, they have helped each other grow.”

The Board or Regents made adjustments to help enrollment numbers, such as being more tuition friendly to out-of-state students and making it easier for students to transfer from a technical school to a public university, Perry said.

All six universities’ enrollments either increased by total head count, number of full-time students, or both.

NSU has the highest head count increase by nearly 11 percent, giving them an enrollment of 2,528 students. Northern had a 2.1 percent increase in the number of full-time students, which is 1,951. NSU President Patrick Schloss said the university had a strong recruitment and retention campaign that helped elevate enrollment numbers.

USD had a 6.4 percent increase in full-time students and in head count. The university has a total of 8,641 students, with 6,525 full-time students. USD’s graduate program enrollment also increased by eight percent.

“We feel good all the way around,” said USD President Jim Abbott.

Other university enrollment figures: BHSU increase one percent in head count numbers and 0.9 percent in full-time students, giving the university a total of 3,888 students, with 2,934 full-time students. DSU’s head count increased by 1.5 percent, but the number of full-time students decreased by 0.6 percent, creating 2,329 students, with 1,504 full-time students. SDSM&T decreased by 1.3 percent in head count numbers, but increased full-time student numbers by 0.1 percent, giving the university 2,313 students with 1,910 full-time students.

#1.884952:4226507322.jpg:enrollment_cj.jpg:With enrollment numbers up again from last year, classrooms are full and bustling with students. Above, Rotunda D, which seats 398 students, has just a few empty seats as class begins.:Charlie Johnson