EMU sets records for enrollment and diversity while adding grad programs

emu-logo2Enrollment at Eastern Mennonite University this fall set new records, including a record-high number of students who are ethnic minorities or come from other countries. The 2014-15 figures were released by the registrar’s office on Sept. 10.

A total of 1,870 students registered for class at the beginning of the fall semester – a 4.4 percent increase over last fall’s 1,789. The number includes the traditional undergraduate population as well as graduate students, seminarians, working adults who are completing college degrees, and English-language students. Among the total enrollment figure are students at EMU’s campus in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and those who study online.

As for diversity, 36 percent of this fall’s undergraduate students are non-white and/or non-American. That number is up from 29 percent a year ago and 11 percent in 2002. This fall 31 percent of the undergraduate students are African-American, Hispanic, Asian and other minorities; 6 percent are international students.

EMU is now one of the most diverse liberal arts schools in Virginia,” said Luke Hartman, vice-president for enrollment. “Greater diversity will, of course, enhance the university experience for all of our students, developing their critical-thinking abilities and emotional intelligence.”

The traditional undergraduate enrollment this fall of 953 is an increase of 2.2 percent from last year’s 932. This is the sixth year in a row that number has increased. EMU’s incoming first-year class of 243 students is the largest since the 1990s.

Much of EMU’s enrollment growth in the last 20 years – since it took the “university” name – is due to the establishment of graduate programs and the Adult Degree Completion Program. But now the increase in traditional undergraduate students is adding to the overall growth as well.

Keeping the students at EMU from year to year is also important, and this fall a high percentage re-enrolled, thanks in part to the efforts of Zach Yoder, a former public school teacher who came to EMU last January as the university’s director of retention.

Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s enrollment held steady this fall, with a small decrease in the total number of students to 133, but a slight increase in the full-time-equivalent number. This past summer the United Methodist Church re-approved EMS – for another four years − for the training of its pastors. The number of United Methodists at EMS increased to 30 this fall.

The other graduate programs, now numbering eight, grew 3.1 percent this fall. The total number of students is 356, compared to last year’s 345.

Three graduate programs debuted this year – organizational leadership, interdisciplinary studies, and a collaborative Master of Business Administration (MBA), the latter operated with two sister Mennonite colleges, Goshen College in Indiana and Bluffton University in Ohio.

The master’s degree in nursing − for working nurses, many of whom study online − is the fastest-growing graduate program at EMU. The master’s programs in counseling and conflict transformation also added more students this fall. The mba and biomedicine programs held steady.

Showing a decrease in numbers was the large master’s degree in education program for teachers, offered at EMU and in Pennsylvania. The decrease in teachers seeking a master’s degree may be because state governments are cutting funds to help educators continue their education, EMU officials said.

The overall number of students enrolled through EMU’s Lancaster campus in Pennsylvania increased this fall from 228 to 257. That includes teachers seeking a master’s degree in education, nurses who want to complete their undergraduate degree, and pastors and future pastors who aspire to a seminary degree.

The Intensive English Program at EMU continues to attract strong interest from international students and local immigrants. IEP prepares them for entrance into American colleges and universities. This fall’s student number is 86.

– Article by Steve Shenk

 
augusta free press

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