Anderson University hopes to grow student body slowly, surely

Thu, 2011-09-08 08:00 -- univcomm
September 8, 2011

A trend of rising attendances at colleges throughout the state of Indiana also holds true for Anderson University.

According to early figures, AU has about the same number of students for the 2011-12 school year than it did at this time last year. However, AU’s freshman class has grown by about five percent, a sign of overall growth for the future.

fall11Dr. Brent Baker, vice president for student life and dean of students, estimated that AU enrolled about 550 new students this year. Last year’s first-time freshman class totaled 467. According to the Anderson University official website, enrollment at the beginning of the 2010-11 fall semester was about 2,565, counting graduate students. [Photo on left: Amy Brinkley, a sophomore from Frankfort, Ind., and Brennan Bowman, a senior from Chicago, Ill., do a swing dance in the valley at AU on Tuesday to promote the campus Swing Club. They were out, along with other groups, as part of Interest Week to inform students of the organizations and opportunities on campus.]

In recent years, attendance at larger institutions such as IU, Butler and Purdue has boomed to the point of overcrowding. That has trickled down to smaller schools as well: Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne set an enrollment record for its sixth straight year, according to figures recently released by The Associated Press.

Baker said that AU attendance grew each year for about a ten-year span before leveling off recently. Baker said he now sees signs that student numbers were again on the rise.

“For many, many years we were setting records for attendance until 2008 when the economy tanked,” he said. “A lot of schools had similar problems. But we are growing again and that’s encouraging.”

Baker said the school’s hopes for growth of the student body were modest.

“We hope to grow 2 or 3 percent each year,” he said. “If you grow, say 10 percent, it can cause problems. We just want to see consistent growth each year, especially in such a competitive environment.”

Other faith-based colleges in the region are also faring well. St. Francis (Fort Wayne) enrolled a record freshman class of nearly 800 students and Indiana Wesleyan in Marion and Taylor University in Upland are also experiencing growth, albeit of a smaller scale.

“It’s not surprising to me to see that private schools are growing,” Baker said. “I think we provide not only a great education but a focus on the overall college experience outside the classroom. Families like the thought of getting great academics and that we are developing young people of character and integrity.”

—Michael D. Doyle is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.