Southern Oregon University has dramatically increased student enrollment this term. Enrollment is up 26.2 percent from last year, a welcomed change from several years of declining growth. Â The universityâ€™s 6,443 students marks the highest enrollment of students for any term in the universityâ€™s history.
All of Oregonâ€™s public universities experienced a growth in enrollment this fall, but SOUâ€™s increase of 26.2 percent blew the rest out of the water.
â€œWeâ€™re an affordable option in a difficult economy,â€ SOU President Mary Cullinan said, â€œWeâ€™re the only university of its kind on the West Coast. Weâ€™re committed to powerful programs in the arts and sciences, but also to professional programs in education and business that educate the professional workforce of this region.â€
The growth came after years of review and revision.
â€œWe’ve been very intentional, looking at why students come and what keeps them here,” SOU President Mary Cullinan said in an interview with the Medford Mail Tribune. “We’ve established a brand as the public liberal arts university on the west coast. We have a commitment to access and affordability and helping students forge connections to faculty and the region.”
The university also has been able to diversify not only the courses offered but the way in which students experience their courses as well.
Since Cullinan has become president, the school has added a major and minor in outdoor adventure leadership, an increase in language programs, an environmental studies program and a degree in applied sciences for transfer students. The university has also signed agreements with several Chinese campuses so that the schools will be able to send business students to SOU. The university also expanded their Emerging Media and Digital Art program, which held an open house on Thursday.
Diversity within the student population has increased as well. The Fall 2010 term had an increase of 46.3 percent in Hispanic student enrollment. Minority enrollment overall at SOU is currently at 12.5 percent, making it the most diverse term in SOU history.
Foreign student enrollment has also increased 22.2 percent from last year.
â€œWeâ€™ve worked hard to get the news out about SOU. And now weâ€™ve been discovered,â€ Cullinan said.