According to a press release
issued by the University of Arkansas, "the university has recorded historic enrollment growth for the fall 2011 semester. The number of students is even larger than originally expected."
A walk around the UA campus brings to life the numbers revealed in what is called the "11th Day" report. The Arkansas Department of Higher Education requires colleges and universities in the state to submit "an enrollment 'snapshot' of students who are registered on the 11th day of classes, which was Sept. 6 this year." The University of Arkansas submitted a preliminary report on Sept. 22 and a final count is expected on Oct. 19, though it is unusual for the numbers to change significantly during that time.
The press release notes, "Based on the '11th day' report, the University of Arkansas has a total enrollment of 23,199 students, an increase of 1,794 students, or 8.4 percent, over the record enrollment registered in fall 2010. This is the largest numerical increase the university has experienced since the late 1940s, and the largest percentage increase since 1975.
The record number of students on campus creates an energy that is palpable. Students are bustling to and from buildings that are illustrative of the findings in the "11th Day" report. For example, near Silas H. Hunt Hall, which houses the offices of Admissions, Registrar, and Student Financial Aid among others, there is always a lot of activity especially during a semester with record enrollment.
The report indicates that "More than one third of all students at the University of Arkansas are enrolled in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, which has a total enrollment of 8,421 students, or 36.3 percent of the student population. Enrollment in Fulbright College increased by 8.8 percent over the fall of 2010. Undergraduates total 7,504 students, a 9.5 percent increase over last year. Graduate enrollment increased by 3.1 percent, to a total of 917 students."
The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
is headquartered in the beautiful Old Main building, which is “for many, the most beloved symbol of higher education in Arkansas.” The Fulbright College is home to 19 academic departments that cover the disciplines of Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences.
The Sam M. Walton College of Business also experienced significant enrollment growth. The Walton College "grew by 10 percent, to a total of 4,082 students. Undergraduate enrollment increased by 10.9 percent to 3,764 students, the second largest number of undergraduates on campus. Graduate student enrollment remained constant, with a total of 318 students."
Some enrollment growth is attributed to the Academic Challenge Scholarship, which financially enabled a number of students to attend the University of Arkansas. It appears that another factor is the reputation of the programs. For example, "The Walton College is ranked
in the top 50 among public and private undergraduate business schools in the nation and in the top 30 among public business colleges, according to the U.S. News and World Report 2012 'America’s Best Colleges.'”
Dr. David Gay, a professor in the Department of Economics, told me that he considers the students in the Walton College to be A-plus students and has found that the UA is quickly becoming a first choice for many. Gay's sentiments echo what Chancellor G. David Gearhart stated in the "11th Day" press release. Gearhart was quoted as saying, “These updated totals are truly impressive. The numbers show that, for Arkansans and for students from around the nation, the University of Arkansas has become a school of first choice for undergraduate and graduate education.”
In fact, according to the press release, the only enrollment decline was experienced by the Fay Jones School of Architecture. The renovation of Vol Walker Hall has required the relocation of the Fay Jones School of Architecture to a number of other sites on or near campus.
"The Fay Jones School of Architecture," notes the report, "with a total of 560 students posted a decline in enrollment because the school is in the process of an expansion and renovation project at Vol Walker Hall. The two-year project has caused space constraints that forced the school to limit its enrollment until the work is completed."
Even with a number of construction projects ongoing, students at the University of Arkansas
are making the best of it and utilizing the campus to its fullest extent, including making use of the trees.