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Sept. 21, 2012
CONTACT: K. E. Schwab

SRU students increase class load

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University students slightly increased their credit-hour course loads for fall semester 2012 compared to those of a year ago, according to numbers released Tuesday following the 15th day of classes.

"The state system has traditionally set the 15th day as the official benchmark used to determine funding levels for each of the 14 system universities," said Amanda Yale, associate provost for enrollment services. The state system will release official numbers for all state system universities at its next board of governors meeting.

"We were again able to maintain our goal of attracting high-quality students, even as the number of high school graduates continues to decrease across the state. The idea of earning a college degree that will offer long-term benefits remains very attractive to young people, and Slippery Rock University remains high on their list of potential schools to attend," she said.

"This year, our freshman SAT average held steady at 1010.27. This fall, 12.1 percent of our freshmen students came from the top 10 percent of their high school graduation class and 36.9 percent of our incoming freshmen class came from the top 25 percent of their high school class," Yale said. "This year's 1,544 entering freshman brought with them a 3.41 high school grade-point average," she said.

"We think the 15th-day numbers show we are continuing to attract quality students who have a solid basis from which to launch their college career. We think they will be very successful at SRU," she said.

Yale said that while there were 153 fewer students on campus this fall than last (8,559 compared to 8,712 in 2011); they had individually registered for more credit hours. The overall numbers, on average, show this semester's fulltime undergraduate students are carrying 15.9 credits, compared to last year's fulltime students who took an average of 15.2 credit hours during fall semester.

In total, current SRU students registered for 121,517 credit hours, compared to 122,777 a year ago.

"This year, we had set our goal of maintaining enrollment, not focusing on growth. We were able to keep our numbers stable, in part by maintaining an 81.2 percent retention rate, the same as a year ago," Yale said. SRU graduated 175 more students last year than in the previous year.

The University has 7,574 undergraduates enrolled from Pennsylvania, and SRU continued to enroll more female students than men, 4,951 compared to 3,608.

Out-of-state graduate student numbers remained steady this fall, 95, compared to 96 a year ago. Out-of-state undergraduate numbers increased slightly this fall at 817, up from 791 in fall 2011.

"Slippery Rock University is an institution committed to excellence and student success through the development of a caring community of lifelong learners - learners who connect to the real world not only through their academic programs, but by reaching out to serve the society in which we live. This institution not only transforms the lives of individuals, but it helps to shape the character of our community, our region and our state. Indeed, Slippery Rock University is a public institution working for the good of the public," Cheryl Norton, SRU president said in her recent Academic Assembly remarks.

Norton told faculty how important enrollment is to the continued success of the University. She said, "To maintain a stable fiscal position, we must recognize our dependence on enrollment. No longer are we in a 'build it and they will come' mode. Rather, Slippery Rock University is in competition for quality students, students that we believe can take advantage of the educational offerings we provide. Enrollment of these students will drive our academic quality and our financial success.

"This fall, our credit-hour enrollment decreased by almost 1 percent compared to last year. While this difference may not be apparent in your classroom, it represents a significant difference in institutional income - a difference of almost half a million dollars in tuition alone," she said.

"So maintaining and hopefully, increasing, enrollment is critical to our financial stability. Unfortunately, we are at a time in the commonwealth and our country where a declining population is now resulting in a declining number of high school graduates. As a result, there is a smaller pool of eligible college-ready students to enroll at any institution of higher education. In reality, our admission's team and everyone involved in the enrollment process did an excellent job this year of admitting more than 1,550 new freshmen to SRU as well as 600 transfer students with both cohorts meeting our academic standards. The reason, however, we are down in enrollment, frankly is that we are a victim of our own success. In May, we graduated almost 175 more students than projected." she said.

Norton said she was already exploring ways to boost enrollment in the future, including expanding scholarship money and financial aid, adding graduate assistantships, expanding the honors program and increasing money for undergraduate research.

"I welcome any ideas you have that will continue to position Slippery Rock University as a 'Best Choice - First Choice' institution. An institution where students make monumental, lifetime decisions that create a rock solid foundation for their future," Norton said.

The number of students of color at SRU this year, including African-American/non-Hispanics; American Indian/Alaskan Native; Hispanic; Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, increased to 704 in 2012 as compared to 654 in 2011, representing an increase of 50 students. Likewise, the number of new, first-time, full-time students of color, represented in the same categories, increased to 181 as compared to 160 in 2011, representing an increase of 21 students, Yale said.

The 2012 15th-day report shows 73 international students enrolled for fall.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.