To: Faculty and Administrative Staff
From: Stephen T. Hulbert, President
The results of the Spring Semester 2004 enrollment are promising in several ways. After a slight decrease in enrollment for the Fall 2003 semester, the University is experiencing a slight increase in enrollment for Spring 2004 compared to the previous spring. Enrollment is up by 37 students to a total headcount of 6,714.
Better retention is a major contributor to this increase. If we examine the First Time Freshmen (FTF) from fall who are returning this spring, they are returning at a rate of 83.4%. That return rate is up 3.48 percentage points from the previous year. As you may remember, Fall 2003 First Time Freshmen numbers were down by 41 students, attributable to a decrease in high school graduates from the eight-parish region.
With retention improved, the number of returning FTF is up by 18 over last spring. At the end of the Fall 2003 term, the University completed a quick analysis on the performance of FTF for their first semester. I am very pleased to report that the probation rate of our FTF dropped from 19.5% at the end of Fall 2002 to 12.6% for Fall 2003. The average GPA for the end of their first semester was 2.34 up from 2.16 for the Fall 2002 cohort. Obviously the improved performance has resulted in more students returning for this semester. First Time Freshmen who received TOPS in the Fall are also returning at a higher rate. The retention rate of FTF on TOPS is 92.02%, which is up from 88.30% from Spring 2003 reflecting an increase of 3.72 percentage points.
Total credit hours have increased for Spring 2004 as compared to Spring 2003. Total student credit hours in Spring 2003 were 81,243. For Spring 2004, credit hours have increased by 2,196 to a total 83,439. The average credit hour load for undergraduate students increased from 13.03 to 13.25 and graduate students increased from 5.29 to 5.45. The number of seniors for the Spring increased significantly (7.3%). The increase in credit hour load should have an impact on graduation rates. Graduation rates will be available in March and will be sent to you in a release at that time.
I reported a decrease in the areas of Teacher Education and Computer Information Systems for the fall semester compared to last year’s enrollment. Teacher Education has increased its Fall-to-Spring enrollment ratio from 89.7% to 96.4%. This increase is the first indication that our students are meeting the higher standards set in place through the redesign and reaccredidation efforts. Computer Information Systems had a similar increase from 81.6% to 86.5%. These programs seem to be following the trend of the University, fewer but better. Agriculture majors have continued to decline. Enrollment in Agriculture for Spring 2004 is 39 reflecting a decline of 18 since last spring and a loss of 31.6 percentage points.
Some programs continue to experience growth. As reported in the fall, the College of Life Sciences and Technology continues to gain enrollment. The College is up 183 students from last spring for an increase of 14.6%. Leading this growth is an increase in Family and Consumer Science students with 61 students more than last spring (29.5% increase). Nursing and Allied Health Sciences are still showing “healthy” increases (15.8% and 13.0% respectively). The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is continuing to expand. The enrollment is up to 162 students, with a 20% increase since last spring. Other significant increases which should be noted are Biological Sciences (15.7%), Graduate Studies in Arts & Sciences (12.5%), and Languages and Literature (20%).
The attachment that accompanies this message provides the raw data regarding Spring Semester 2004 enrollment. This data are provided for informational purposes and to support campus planning at all levels. Requests for clarification regarding this data should be addressed to Mrs. Renee Hicks, Director of Assessment and Institutional Research.