The future is looking brighter for Fort Lewis College, which saw its largest on-campus enrollment increase in a decade.
According to Mitch Davis, FLC’s public affairs officer, as of “census day” – the day the college finalizes its official enrollment numbers for the fall semester – 88 more students are enrolled in FLC compared with last year, with on-campus enrollment up 2.35 percent in 2012, from 3,748 to 3,836, surpassing both the fiscal year 2012-13 operating budget and enrollment goals as outlined in the college’s recently approved Strategic Plan.
Given declines in state funding for public colleges, Davis said: “Enrollment numbers become more important. The more money we have, the more tuition dollars we have.”
“Housing is not a concern yet,” Davis said. “In years past, we’ve held one of our residence halls empty for over a year. When large number of students or conferences come in, we’ve put them in there, but this year, we’re using it as a residence hall, and it’s halfway filled up,” Davis said.
“One year doesn’t make a trend,” but he said that if enrollment figures continue to increase at this year’s rate, “we’d run into a situation where we’re fully booked up. And then we’d have to make tough choices. Do we continue to require all freshman to live on campus? Still, that wouldn’t be a horrible situation to be in.”
Davis said to ensure the student body’s educational experience isn’t adversely affected by its swelling numbers, “in the short term, we’re increasing our classes and also, if we need to, increasing the number of students in our classes.
“But we need to do that carefully. One of the things we pride ourselves on is personal attention to students. We don’t want any 600-person auditoriums at FLC,” Davis said. If FLC continued to see enrollment increases of this size, it would consider hiring more professors, he added.
Davis attributed FLC’s increased enrollment to its increased expenditure on marketing, which he estimated was in the “low six-figures.”
“We’ve seen a large increase in out-of-state students this year, and that’s directly attributable to our nationwide marketing efforts,” he said.
Davis said that ethnically, the two biggest changes from 2010 were in on-campus Hispanic enrollment, which jumped by 56 students, and Native American enrollment, which jumped by 23.
In a news release, FLC President Dene Kay Thomas said FLC’s efforts at increasing enrollment were “reaping dividends,” and that FLC would continue to work for “fiscally responsible growth that maintains our selective admission standard and the quality of our student body.”