Enrollment at Fort Hays State University as of Feb. 9 was counted at 7,165 students, an increase of seven students from the university's previous all-time high 20th-day spring enrollment of 7,158 a year ago.
Universities' spring enrollments are typically lower than fall enrollments. The Kansas Board of Regents uses the 20th-day number as a basis of comparison for its six universities.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said the new enrollment record continues the trend that flows from the university's promise of "Affordable Success," which has been realized not only in low tuition but also in the national academic championships by its students and nearly perfect placement rates for its graduates. A recently completed survey of all the May 2004 graduates showed that 98 percent had either found jobs or had been admitted to programs of advanced study.
The 20th-day spring enrollment includes 4,344 students on campus, which was a slight decrease of 11 students from a year ago. However, enrollment was up by 18 students in FHSU's Virtual College, which delivers courses from FHSU's College of Business and Leadership, College of Education and Technology, College of Health and Life Sciences, and College of Arts and Sciences over the Internet, on videotape and by other means throughout Kansas and beyond.
President Hammond said that while he was pleased by the enrollment report, the university has started moving in a different direction. "When I announced at the beginning of the fall semester at the General Meeting for Faculty and Administration that 'Quality' would be the theme for our 2004-05 academic year, I explained that we would redirect our efforts from growth to an emphasis on ensuring that we preserve excellence in the face of the tremendous growth that we have recently enjoyed."
Hammond said the quality theme emerged from input he received from the Faculty Senate and the Research Environment Task Force. "Responding to questions I posed for faculty last year, the Faculty Senate recommended that our university pursue a sustainable growth policy, consistent quality of coursework, more faculty involvement with our international partnerships, more support for Virtual College students, and an increased emphasis on research and scholarship," he said, adding that the Research Environment Task Force made similar recommendations for enhanced quality.
" We're tremendously pleased that students demonstrate their belief in our quality by continuing to enroll at FHSU in record numbers," the president said, "but faculty want to be certain that we also strive for improvement in quality and I endorse that goal."
Dennis King, director of the Virtual College, pointed out that enrollment at Sias International University in China was down by 140 students from about 850 on the 20th day a year ago, so the number of Virtual College students in Kansas and elsewhere in the United States was up by about 150.
The official 20th-day headcount has become less and less relevant at FHSU, which is a leader in distance education. Final headcounts were closely comparable to 20th-day headcounts before 1988, when enrollment began to soar in FHSU's Virtual College, which delivers courses to students at locations and times that fit their busy schedules. In the spring semester a year ago, the 20th-day enrollment of 7,158 had grown to a final count of 7,932 at the end of the semester because students continue to enroll in Virtual College classes throughout the semester. President Hammond said enrollment for the spring 2005 semester would also increase significantly by the time the final count is reported.
Joey Linn, FHSU registrar, credited all the people in offices and departments across campus for working hard to make prospective students aware of the wonderful educational opportunities available at the university, and he especially commended the faculty.
" Our faculty not only help with recruiting, but they work with students in and out of the classroom to assure the high quality that makes Affordable Success a reality at Fort Hays State," Linn said.