Enrollment has increased 9 percent since 2000.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The number of students receiving degrees from Youngstown State University hits an eight-year high with spring commencement today in Beeghly Center.
YSU's Records Office reports that 2,047 students graduated during the 2003-04 academic year, which includes commencements in the summer, fall and spring.
That's nearly 10 percent more than the previous academic year and the highest number since 2,068 received diplomas in 1995-96.
"The growing number of graduates is certainly reflective of a progressive institution that is making its mark on the region," said YSU President David C. Sweet.
Thousands of families, friends and graduates were expected to fill Beeghly Center for the commencement ceremonies.
Judy G. Hample, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, will receive an honorary degree and give the keynote address.
The student speaker for the ceremony will be Heather Voris, a 1993 graduate of Central Christian High School in Kidron, Ohio. Voris is receiving a bachelor's degree in medical illustration.
Adrienne Tomczyk of Pulaski, Pa., is receiving a bachelor's degree in psychology today and is the first undergraduate student to receive a certificate in American Humanics at YSU. The certificate program operates under the umbrella of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at YSU and prepares students to become leaders in nonprofit organizations.
Also today, the first 10 students in YSU's new associate degree program in technical studies are graduating. The program started in fall 2002 in cooperation with FirstEnergy Corp. to train students to be line workers for the utility company.
Reasons for increase
The number of YSU graduates has skyrocketed in the past four years. In the 2000-01 academic year, 1,822 students received degrees. This year, 2,047 earned diplomas, a 12 percent increase.
Cynthia Anderson, vice president for student affairs, said there are several reasons for the jump, including an increase in overall enrollment from 11,787 in 2000 to 12,858 this academic year, a 9-percent rise.
Anderson said efforts of the Center for Student Progress also have helped boost graduation numbers. The center provides tutoring and mentoring services aimed at helping students be successful in the classroom.
"The increased enrollment, combined with our stepped-up intervention services, means more students are moving on and completing their degrees, which is one of our major goals as an institution," Anderson said.