NAU records highest enrollment in university history

highest enrollment

Northern Arizona University has recorded the largest enrollment in the institution’s 107-year history, with a student population of 20,562, nearly 1,500 students over last fall’s enrollment.

Enrollment increased 1,493 students over fall 2005’s 19,069, a 7.8 percent jump.

“It is great news for the institution—another step forward for Northern Arizona University,” said NAU President John Haeger. “Students from Arizona, the Southwest and across the country are recognizing the quality that Northern Arizona University delivers, whether it is the best residential on-campus experience or providing access at a distance to students where they live and work.”

Not only has enrollment increased, but NAU also registered its highest retention rate of 71.8 percent, compared to last year’s 69.6 percent.

The numbers at NAU are up in all categories, including the Flagstaff campus, Distance Learning, new and continuing freshmen, transfer students and minority enrollment (see chart).

Enrollment on the Flagstaff campus rose to 13,443, which is 755 over last fall. Distance Learning enrollment at sites across the state reached 7,119—767 over last fall. Online-only enrollment increased by 462 students to 1,780, a record jump.

Other notable increases on the Flagstaff campus include a 17 percent increase (to 3,209) of out-of-state students and an 18.6 percent increase (to 3,963) in new and continuing freshmen. In-state student enrollment increased by 6 percent, to 16,807.

NAU also experienced across-the-board increases for all ethnicities, including an 11 percent increase in Hispanic students, to 2,543 and a 31 percent increase in African-American students to 556.

Haeger credited the combined efforts of the NAU faculty, staff and students for the enrollment and retention improvement.

“We’ve said all along that everyone at NAU contributes to the university’s success on a daily basis, and the hard work from all parts of campus is paying off,” Haeger said.

The president specifically praised many faculty efforts, such as participation in open houses and phone-a-thons, the opening of additional course sections, added teaching assignments and improved advising.

Haeger also pointed out the increased number of statewide programs being offered throughout Arizona, especially in Maricopa and Pima counties.

Fred Hurst, vice president of Extended Programs and dean of Distance Learning, said, “The off-campus enrollment increases totaled more than 12 percent, emphasizing the growing needed to provide excellence in academic programs with flexible schedules to students no matter where they are.”

Liz Grobsmith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, thanked the college deans, chairs and faculty for their flexibility and efforts to bring in students. “Close student-faculty interaction has always been an NAU hallmark, and all of our academic departments reaffirm that quality every day,” she said. “I think this semester’s enrollment is proof that students value that quality.”

Haeger also credited increased efforts to communicate the university’s messages through new University Marketing initiatives, public relations and other forms of communication.

David Bousquet, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, cited many additional reasons as well. A focus on students by NAU staff, increased recruitment through Admissions, additional retention efforts, solid advisement, improved housing and dining opportunities, and the general look of the Flagstaff campus were among the items he noted.

“Success comes from more than just doing a good job,” Bousquet said. “There are a lot of people behind the scenes who performed above and beyond—electricians, grounds people, custodians and so many others who don’t normally get recognized for their efforts.”

Enrollment figures are determined by counting all students currently enrolled in NAU programs, including nonresident students taking online courses.

“Our enrollment growth reflects the quality of our programs, the commitment of our faculty and staff and the momentum of the university,” Haeger said. “This is truly good news to celebrate.”