Samford University has a record enrollment for the second consecutive year. Total enrollment is 4,715, up from fall 2009’s record of 4,658.
The increase was based on several factors, according to R. Phil Kimrey, Samford’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. Included in the total are a record 1,777 graduate students, solidifying Samford’s growing reputation as a national doctoral research university.
Samford recently moved up 12 spots in the top tier of national doctoral research universities in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report college rankings.
Kimrey noted an 89 percent increase in nursing school graduate enrollment over fall 2009 as a major factor in the record total.
According to Nena Sanders, dean of Samford’s Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, the explosive growth in graduate enrollment is directly related to two programs, including Samford’s three-year-old doctor of nursing practice degree program. Samford has received nearly $1 million in grants to provide scholarships for students obtaining advanced degrees, particularly to teach, which has increased enrollment.
“There is a national shortage of nursing faculty and a growing need for additional nursing faculty for the future,” Sanders added. “Today’s nursing faculty is aging and retiring, and we have been able to expand our nurse educator option to help meet the faculty needs for the future.
“The significant increase also relates to the future need for nurse practitioners. With the anticipated new health care reforms, there will be an increased need for primary care providers. Nurse practitioners will be called upon to fill that need.”
Samford’s freshman-to-sophomore-year retention rate rose to 86.1 percent, a significant increase over the fall 2009 rate of 82.2 percent. Retention is a key indicator of student success rates, Kimrey said.
“The increase in freshman-to-sophomore retention also indicates a high rate of satisfaction by our students and their families. Samford is providing the quality of education and services that they see as a good investment.”
Although the number of entering freshmen, 712, was down slightly from fall 2009, the number of transfer students was up to 128. The total number of new students was 840. The academic profile of the 2010 freshman class is the strongest in history, Kimrey added, with an average Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score of 1149 and an ACT college entrance examination score of 26. Both are above the national average. The freshman class also includes 13 National Merit Scholars.
“The strong credentials of our entering class are further indication of Samford’s rigorous academic programs and our growing academic reputation,” Kimrey said.
The Samford student body includes students from 47 states and 16 foreign countries. The majority of students come from the Southeast, led by Alabama (2,180), Georgia (646), Tennessee (571) and Florida (296). Texas followed with 172, a 37 percent increase over fall 2009. Alabamians represent about 46 percent of Samford’s total enrollment.
Kimrey noted that western states had a significant representation increase this fall, with Washington, Oregon, Nevada and New Mexico all seeing at least a 50 percent increase in the number of students at Samford.
“Again, our growing national reputation is having a direct impact on broadening our geographic diversity,” Kimrey said.
Samford’s record enrollment comes at a pivotal time for the university, according to Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. He noted that the uncertain global economic climate has created challenges for some institutions, while Samford has maintained an upward focus.
“We continue to stress Samford’s strong academic reputation and affordability to prospective students and their parents,” Westmoreland said. “But, our faculty and staff contribute to the process by providing the rigorous academic and outstanding co-curricular experiences that are important to students.”
Samford continues to be Alabama’s largest private university. It also has been rated as one of the 50 “Best Values” nationally among private universities by The Princeton Review and USA Today.