Slower enrollment growth strategy still sets record of 21,353 students

University maintains strong retention rate, hires 60 new faculty and improves diversity of student body

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10/5/2016 | By: Kerri Garcia |

The University of Nevada, Reno welcomed 21,353 undergraduate and graduate students to campus for the fall 2016 semester, representing a 2.2 percent increase over the fall 2015 enrollment of 20,898 students.

Undergraduate student enrollment increased 2.9 percent this year, from 17,295 in fall 2015 to 17,794 in 2016. Graduate student enrollment increased 1.3 percent, from last year's 2,851 students to 2,887 in 2016.

Incoming freshmen account for 3,361 students this fall, a 8.8 percent decrease over last fall's 3,687 freshmen students. New advance standing freshman students (students who would be freshman but transfer with above 30 credits) account for 192, a 17.1 percent increase over last fall's 164. This year's freshman class, the Class of 2020, is well prepared academically with an average high-school grade-point average of 3.4 and average ACT score of 23.3.  

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"This year, we purposely slowed, but not stopped, our enrollment growth to reduce the student-to-faculty ratios," University President Marc Johnson said. "In parallel with this strategy has been the addition of new faculty, about 60 additional positions this fall, so by combining these two approaches, we will see a small reduction in student-to-faculty ratio with the intention to enhance both our learning experience and research productivity."   

The incoming class includes 10 National Merit Scholars, which brings the total National Merit scholarship recipients on campus to 44. The class also includes 119 Presidential Scholars. The student body now includes 344 recipients of the Presidential Scholarship, a University scholarship awarded to high-achieving students.  

Diversity of the student body also continues to increase. This year, underrepresented students comprise 36 percent of the total enrollment, compared to 35 percent last year. Considering the proportion of Hispanic/Latino enrollment alone, this group has grown from 17 percent to 18.5 percent.   

"Recruiting and retaining a multitude of students requires professional skill and passion for our mission through the great work of our Student Services units," Johnson said.  "These units explicitly have opened the doors of the University to all communities of qualified students and provided the academic and social support to help all of our students reach their goal of a degree."   

From the fall of 2014 to the fall of 2017, the University will have added 166 faculty positions on the way to the goal of adding 400 positions by fall 2021.  Even though the new enrollment figure of 21,353 represents only a 2.2 percent increase in headcount, student full time equivalents, a formula-derived number that results from converting student credit hours (SCH) into equivalent full-time 'students' in terms of credit load, is up 3.7 percent, indicating that students are taking heavier course loads on their way to a four-year degree.   

Contributing to the enrollment increase is the fall-to-fall retention rate of 81 percent. Retention rates are based on the number of students returning following their freshman year.  

Both in-state and out-of-state representation within the undergraduate student body increased with in-state students up 0.9 percent and non-resident students up 6 percent. The undergraduate student population remains at 70 percent Nevada residents.  The incoming freshmen class includes students from 16 Nevada counties, with more students coming from Nevada's Washoe County (1,143) than Clark County (1,002).  

The University learned in September it is again ranked in the top tier of the "best national universities" by U.S. News & World Report, in addition to being cited as one of the nation's fastest growing flagship universities according to a Washington Post analysis.

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