The University of Texas at Tyler hit a new milestone for enrollment, surpassing 10,000 students for the first time.
The 10,527 students enrolled for the fall semester is a record and marks a 6.45 percent increase from the 9,889 students enrolled in fall 2016.
That's according to the 12th class day figures, the date the Texas Higher Education Board sets for official reporting for all public colleges.
The preliminary enrollment number also shows an increase of 75 students at the Longview University Center, which now enrolls 285 students.
“The University of Texas at Tyler continues to attract more students because we combine the best of a UT System education with the sort of student-focused community found at the best small liberal arts schools,” President Michael Tidwell said in the news release. “The caliber of students in this incoming class is impressive, and we’re looking forward to an exciting year of academic achievement.”
UT Tyler has had an average annual growth rate at 8 percent since 2011.
The continued increase in enrollment is welcome news to the university as it looks toward its future, which may include a move into NCAA Division II Athletics as it enters its new strategic plan.
Tidwell took over as president in January and has said he plans to spend his first year charting out a new trajectory for the UT Tyler.
The university is leaning toward using part of the 120 acres purchased in 2016 as home for a potential Athletics Campus. The move also would free more space for facilities on the main campus facing University Boulevard.
Tidwell has indicated this could serve as a way to move the face of the campus toward the population center it serves, rather than facing residential neighborhoods.
If growth continues at the same rate, the college will be home to more than 11,000 students in 2018. Growth trends put the college on track to reach anywhere between 14,000 and 18,000 students by 2,020.
The new new $56 million College of Business and Technology facility also will open in 2018, along with an adjoining parking garage, directly across the shopping centers on University Boulevard.
The four-story 140,000 square-foot building will be home to more than 2,600 students when it opens.
Once the business facility opens, its old home will undergo a total renovation to become the College of Arts and Science, which will be comprised of core classes.
As it works on consolidating and updating branding ahead of the potential move to NCAA Division II, Tidwell hopes they also can improve the university's brand in the community. He wants UT Tyler to be thought of as an integral part of the community it serves.
Tidwell wants to accomplish that integration by fundamentally changing the way the college interacts with East Texas.
“This will help the institution take on a different posture here in East Texas,” he said.
Tidwell sees the university becoming a central asset to the region with the upcoming strategic plan, which will enter the draft phase this fall.
Tyler Mayor Martin Heines has said the growth of UT Tyler is the single greatest indicator of success for the city of Tyler.
Tidwell echoed those sentiments on his first day as president in January, noting the tremendous growth the university had seen in recent years.
“The enrollment growth that we have experienced over the last four to five years has been tremendous, there are very few institutions in the nation that have experienced that type of growth,” Tidwell said in January. “I’m excited to figure out how to maintain that growth and the quality of education.”
Numbers for Tyler Junior College are expected to be released by the end of the week.