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Northern enrollment creeps up, Limbaugh optimistic

Montana State University-Northern's campus isn't the only thing looking better over the past few months. The enrollment figures have gone up and Chancellor Jim Limbaugh believes its just the beginning.

This semester 1,282 students are enrolled at Northern, up nine students from 1,273 this time last year, and full-time equivalent students is up 3.15, from 1055.22 last October to 1058.37 this year.

"I am very privileged to have a dedicated group of faculty and staff who have worked very hard to make this enrollment increase a reality, " Limbaugh said in a press release.

"When I came to Northern nine months ago I told everyone our enrollment will be up by the fall of 2013. I am pleased we have achieved that goal a year early, and my overarching goal is for that trend to continue."

"I believe that Northern can be an institution of 3,000, " Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh believes the university already has most of the raw materials necessary — partners in Great Falls, facilities in Lewistown and a growing online course catalog — and that the main challenge is "reviewing courses to make sure they are relevant and best reflect the expertise that our faculty have. It's all about building a niche for Northern. "

That is going to take a lot of work and support, but Limbaugh is encouraged by the outpouring he saw this summer, as 60 volunteers donated 2,000 hours of work on enhancing the gymnasium, student union building and student housing.

Northern's growth joins the main MSU campus in Bozeman in its ascent, as that school counts 14,660 students this semester, 507 more than last fall.

The University of Montana was not as fortunate, with 12,476 students enrolled this fall, 390 fewer students than last year.

UM interim vice president for integrated communications Peggy Kuhr told the Missoulian there is no way of knowing whether enrollment was affected by the publicity over investigations into the university's handling of reports of sexual assault.


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