By Tim Leeds
For the first time in eight years, Montana State University-Northern has seen a major increase in its enrollment.
MSU-Northern had 1,300 students on Tuesday, the official date to record the number of enrolled students, or an increase of 4.5 percent over last year. The Havre campus had 1,154 students, compared with 1,132 last year. The Great Falls campus has 64 at the Great Falls, and 82 are enrolled at Lewistown and over the Northnet interactive television system. Last year Great Falls had 66 and the other sites had 46.
Stave Jamruzka, registrar at MSU-Northern, said that while the university has seen some small increases in the past eight years, 1993 was the last year with an increase of this size. He said the last year with any increase at all was 1998, with an increase of about 10 or 15 students.
Chancellor Alex Capdeville said MSU-Northern has increased recruitment, including two bus tours of schools in northeastern Montana last winter and spring. It also sent a record number of faculty and students to high schools. MSU-Northern also has partnerships with tribal colleges in the state, providing the last two years of education for those students who want to earn a bachelor's degree.
The university also has redesigned its admissions and recruiting programs to make them more customer service-oriented, Capdeville said. The faculty and staff worked hard with the students to help them get the advising and courses they needed.
Capdeville said the positive impact the football program at MSU-Northern is having on the campus is another reason for the increase. The university brought football back in 1999 as a club, and joined the Frontier Conference in 2000.
Montana State University-Northern is continuing to work on improving enrollment, Capdeville said. The university is in the process of designing a new residence hall and is developing a long-term strategic plan. Capdeville said he is committed to improving campus life, and added that while the university needs to expand its distance delivery, that can't be at the expense of the Havre campus.
A study commissioned by MSU-Northern last year recommended that improving recruiting, campus life and long-term planning should be priorities for the university.
University officials held an "F.T.E" party last Monday to celebrate the increase in student numbers, known as full-time equivalents. They provided food, toasts and entertainment, they said, in keeping with the theme.