LIMA — Most local universities are seeing increases in enrollment to begin the 2016-17 academic year, while others saw modest decreases.
Rhodes State College has seen a 5 percent increase from 4,400 to 4,600. OSU-Lima saw a 2.9 percent increase and Wright State University-Lake Campus saw a significant 14 percent increase.
Ohio Northern University saw a slight 4 percent decrease to 3,108 while Bluffton University saw a decrease of less than 1 percent. University of Northwestern Ohio saw its numbers remain steady at 4,347.
Lake Campus Dean Jay Albayyari said the campus’ growth stemmed from growth at the university and they expect it to continue. The campus now has a waiting list to get into campus housing and plans to build a third housing unit.
“The continued growth of programs is making the student body grow,” Albayyari said. “We added nursing, electrical engineering and a business degree program.”
Albayyari said joining a new, larger athletic conference has also led to growth. The school now has athletes from 15 different states. New agricultural and water quality programs, a planned medical school, and capital improvements at the university. The campus is also aggressive with recruiting. The growth was despite a slight 1 percent decrease at the main campus.
While ONU had a decrease of 4 percent, the freshman class increased by 4 percent and the freshman to sophomore retention rate was an especially high 86 percent. ONU vice president of enrollment management Bill Eiolola said steps the university has taken to lift on-time graduation has also led to the slight decrease. The university’s graduation rate increased by 8 percent last year.
“We are working on improving online graduation rates,” Eiolola said. “We are working to make sure people are graduating on time with academic advising and audit analysis.”
Eiolola said the campus uses strategic planning to get to potential students earlier and has extended its recruiting into surrounding states.
UNOH Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing Cheryl Steinwedel said the college remains somewhat steady because of its unique curriculum.
“We are different from other universities because of our applied technology programs,” Steinwedel said. “It is unique.”
Steinwedel said the campus had students from 40 states and 36 countries.
OSU-Lima Associate Director of Enrollment Bryan Albright said the university is recruiting in the immediate area and is a good attraction for first year engineering students. The freshman to sophomore retention rate has rose each of the past four years.
“We are doing a lot of outreach in a 10-county area,” Albright said. “Our enrollment is up four of the last five terms.”
Bluffton University Director of Public Relations Robin Bowlus said the losses in enrollment were primarily from lower enrollment in adult and graduate studies. However, new enrollment is up the last two years. The school is taking strides in improving enrollment with new programs in registered nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing, speech language pathology, and audiology. The school is also adding golf back as a varsity sport and is recruiting to begin next fall.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm.