Freedom New Mexico: Alisa Boswell Jacob Jones, a recruiter in the Enrollment Services Department at Eastern New Mexico University talks to an ENMU freshman about homesickness Wednesday morning. Director of Enrollment Services Cody Spitz said recruiting new students is a team effort among students, faculty and employees at ENMU. He said this has contributed to ENMU setting a new enrollment record of 5,500 students this semester.
Strong recruiting, tough economic times and attentive faculty members have led to a new fall enrollment record at Eastern New Mexico University, according to university officials.
Gamble said 5,574 students are enrolled at ENMU’s Portales campus this fall, a 9.7 percent increase over the 5,080 who enrolled last fall.
First time freshman students are at 689, which is a 12 percent increase over last year’s 615 freshmen.
“First and foremost, I think the university has a real solid image and good reputation for providing quality programs at an affordable price,” ENMU President Steven Gamble said. “Second, we have a very strong recruiting team, which consists of our recruiters, admissions, financial aid personnel and other faculty and staff. We say that everyone at the university is a recruiter.
“Another factor in our growth is the economy. When our region or nation has a troubled economy, more people enroll in colleges and universities. These people see that their job prospects will be greatly improved if they have a college education.”
Gamble said ENMU has lower tuition than universities in surrounding states.
ENMU’s rate for returning freshmen also increased this year by 64 percent.
“We are really proud of that,” said Ronnie Birdsong, vice president of university relations and enrollment services. “Our students and faculty really do a lot to assist our students. We even do surveys with students to see how things are going for them. We have a faculty group that actually meets a couple times a month to help us and show us where the communications gaps are with students. We take that pretty seriously.”
Birdsong said enrollment services employees and student workers make phone calls to freshman on a regular basis to ask how they are doing and how their classes are going. She said she thinks this level of help and support has helped in encouraging students to return.
“The group that’s in there now have really increased their efforts to stay in touch with freshman students,” Birdsong said. “They’ve spent a lot of time building a rapport with those students and that may be what we’re the most proud of.”
Birdsong said the university also has an early alert system. If faculty members observe students are showing signs of stress or lack of academic responsibility, they alert the student counseling and enrollment centers.
She said the Portales community is also a contributing factor to the university’s growth.
“I think one of the things we also need to contribute our success to is that the community is always welcoming our students and parents like to see a community that will welcome their kids,” Birdsong said.
Gamble said all university staff members make a joint effort to support the student population, so the university’s numbers have gradually increased each school year.
“Ours is not an affluent population, so we feel obligated to keep the tuition and fees as low as possible. I believe we have done a good job in this effort,” Gamble said. “We are very happy with this year’s enrollment. We have exceptional faculty and excellent staff who worked hard to produce this success.”