By DAVID SKOLNICK
A weakened economy, programs targeting the “needs and wants” of students, and a concerted effort by its employees led to the highest enrollment level at Youngstown State University in two decades, a YSU spokesman said.
According to preliminary figures compiled by YSU, 15,194 students are enrolled there for the fall semester. That’s 512 students more than the 2009 fall semester; a 3.5 percent increase.
It is the highest enrollment since 1990, when the number of students on campus was 15,454. Since 2000, YSU’s enrollment has climbed by 3,407 students or 29 percent.
“When the economy declines, enrollment goes up in higher education,” Ron Cole, a YSU spokesman, said Wednesday.
People who are out of work are looking for retraining or take classes for a new career, he said in explaining one reason for the increased enrollment.
YSU also listened to students who suggested programs that interest them as well as meet their “needs and wants,” Cole said.
That includes forensic science and a doctoral program in physical therapy, he said.
Also, those who work at YSU are heavily involved in recruiting and encouraging people to enroll, Cole said.
That helps supplement the work done by YSU’s recruitment staff and the university’s upgrades to its website, including video, and its involvement in social media such as Twitter and Facebook, he said.
It wasn’t known Thursday how much the enrollment increase is generating in new tuition revenue.
But Jack Fahey, interim vice president for student affairs and university ombudsman, said in June that he anticipated fall enrollment at 15,058. That number would have increased tuition revenue this year compared to 2009 by $2.6 million with $800,000 going to members of the Association of Classified Employees.
ACE’s contract includes an enrollment-incentive clause to be divided among its 400 members.
A breakdown on where YSU students come from could be finished as early as the end of this week, Cole said.
“That enrollment is up is a very good thing and a trend we’ve seen over the past 10 years,” he said. “It’s the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people on campus.”
In a statement, YSU President Cynthia E. Anderson said: “Getting students on campus is just the first step. The job now is to help every single one of our students do well in their classes, to graduate and to pursue their personal and professional goals. These students have chosen YSU; we are committed to their success.”