Southern Oregon University in a Boom Year
By Andy Combs, Staff Writer
(Ashland, Ore.) —This has been a big fall for Southern Oregon University experiencing a windfall of new students for the first time in three years. University officials recently announced S.O.U. experienced a 1.02% increase in enrollment this term despite more dyer predictions.
According to Ryan Brown, head of SOU Community and Media Relations, the university accepted an additional 6,203 incoming students. Despite Oregon University System projections that enrollment would decrease this fall, this is the first year-over year Fall Term enrollment increase that has been recorded since 2011.
Other schools in the state varied on their enrollment numbers as compared to Southern Oregon University. According to Brown, Oregon State University had the largest year-over-year increase in the state this fall, SOU had the second largest, and all five other public universities in Oregon experienced decreases of varying amounts. Brown attributes the freshmen bubble in enrollment to many things however he said the university’s staff has been a major component, “The was a lot of hard work being done by a lot of people in admissions and other departments. Our admissions staff was in a lot of cases in recent months working one on one with students who had a specific obstacle that they had to overcome before they could enroll.” The majority of incoming students are local or at least from Oregon or perhaps a neighboring state in some cases, but Brown said also that SOU has expanded outreach to college fairs and visits to high schools as well as doing a more in geographic areas where they hadn’t been as active in the past. “Anytime that we’re doing things to raise awareness for the institution it’s never going to have a negative effect on enrollment when we’re raising the profile and being able to have more venues and avenues for promoting and highlighting the good things that we’re doing here.”
One way to measure the value of a university such as SOU is to look at local employment data, according to Brown: “If you look at [if] SOU grads going out are being able to find work with their degree in hand, the answer locally seems to be “yes” and that’s one way to measure the value of that.” Brown also paid homage to the steps that new administrative staff has taken at SOU to increase enrollment “The new president, Dr. Saigo came in over the summer and he sort of charged some departments and folks on campus to do more and I think that people responded to that and these are some of the fruits of our labor.”
Brown reiterates that there is no one major thing that lead to the boom in enrollment other than hard work by many different people. “It’s all of these small streams that sort of converge and become a trickle and then a river is where you end up getting additional enrollments from in many cases.”