The chancellor of Montana State University-Northern said that with the first day of classes starting today at the university, the school is off to a nice start.
“I’m looking forward to another good year,” Chancellor Frank Trocki said.
Enrollment looks to be at least steady with last year’s numbers, possibly with another slight increase, he said.
The final fall enrollment count is made in the third week of classes.
Trocki said it appears the number of freshman coming into Northern may be a record number. He said he would learn more about those and other numbers during meetings today.
It also appears that a larger-than-ever number of out-of-state students will be attending Havre’s institution this fall, including students coming from as far away as North Carolina and Pennsylvania to enroll in its four-year diesel technology program.
Students also have filled the residence halls at Northern, as they did last year.
“We have a full house,” Trocki said.
“And, of course, we won our football game,” Trocki said, adding that the school’s volleyball team also is seeing success in the early season.
The Lights football team defeated conference opponent University of Montana-Western in Dillon to go 1-0 so far, while the Skylights volleyball team won three of four matches over the weekend to go 4-2 so far.
Northern’s enrollment has stabilized in the last few years. According to the official enrollment report at the university registrar’s website, after hitting a low of 1,215 total students — 1,109 underclassmen — in the fall semester of 2007, the enrollment came up a bit in 2008 with 1,217 total students, with a slight drop in underclassmen.
The university had 1,102 underclassmen, including 405 freshmen, that year.
The numbers increased last year, with 1,272 total students in the fall. That included 1,149 underclassmen with 503 freshmen.
The residence halls opened Saturday, with a required orientation for new and transfer students held throughout the day and a barbecue held that night. Orientation and registration services continued Sunday.
The week has several activities set for incoming students, including a Frisbee golf tournament scheduled for today, a concert by the band Shaimus Tuesday and another by Larry Myer Wednesday.
Trocki said several activities are ongoing and drawing much attention to the university. One is a partnership with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to test biodiesel produced at Earl Fisher Biofuels in Chester and certified and tested at Northern in one of the railway’s locomotives.
Trocki said the dean of the College of Technical Sciences is receiving calls from around the world about those tests.
Northern also partnered last year with the local transit system, providing biodiesel for use in its buses that run from Fort Belknap to Havre and back and from Box Elder to Havre and back, as well as on routes inside Havre and twice a week to Great Falls and back.
Another potential major creation for Northern — a Federal Aviation Administration Center for Excellence that would work with unmanned aircraft — is still being pursued, Trocki said.
He said a team met at Northern last week, and Northern’s team will soon travel to a meeting in Mississippi.
Northern would partner with Mississippi State University and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to create the center in Havre.