The University of Texas at Tyler topped 7,500 students in fall enrollment this year, far surpassing its goal and placing it among the fastest growing universities in the state, according to school officials.
The university reported an enrollment of 7,534 students for fall 2013, well above the 7,000-person goal, according to a school news release.
The total was 659 students, or 9 percent, above last year’s fall headcount of 6,875.
“This is a celebratory moment for UT Tyler,” President Rod Mabry said, according to the news release. “We knew we were going to reach 7,000 this fall, but blowing right past that goal while also raising the quality of our students was very exciting.”
Fall enrollment data for the past five years show the university has had steady growth, but this year’s increase was more than three times the previous year’s.
Mabry said he was proud of the university’s faculty and staff, who continue to make it a place where students feel comfortable, are successful and can experience “one of the strongest educations available in our state.”
Four primary factors contributed to the enrollment growth. They are the expansion of university programs, a focus on quality teaching, higher student retention rates and successful recruiting in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas, according to the news release. In addition, graduate and international student enrollment increased as well.
An example of a new university program is the UT Tyler Houston Engineering Center. At Houston Community College’s Alief Campus, the center is a partnership with HCC and San Jacinto Community College.
Through the center, students can earn an accredited bachelor’s degree in engineering for about half the cost of some of the better-known Texas programs, according to the news release.
Students start out by earning an associate’s degree in engineering sciences at Houston Community College or another qualifying community college. They then transfer to UT Tyler’s Houston Engineering Center or the Tyler campus to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Online programs also contributed to growth. The university’s graduate school is offering more than 100 online courses this fall and enrollment has increased, according to the news release.
Some of the new all-online programs include master’s degrees in English, reading and special education, along with a teacher-certification program called STEP.
Despite all these influences, Mabry said the biggest factor in the enrollment increase is the retention work of everyone on campus.
Jesse Acosta, the university’s vice president for business affairs, said a couple of years ago a university committee examined literature and best practices related to retention and communicated with representatives from those schools.
Steps included working to ensure faculty connected with students early in their academic careers and pairing students with upperclassmen who could help them navigate their college experience, Acosta said, according to the news release.