In a year marred by pandemic-related challenges for universities across the country, Samford achieved record enrollment for the spring semester and reported one of its highest undergraduate student retention rates in history.
Based on findings from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollment decreased by 2.9 percent across all institution types between spring 2020 and spring 2021. Despite this notable national decline, Samford posted a 2.9 percent increase in enrollment for the same period.
Meanwhile, 94.5 percent of Samford undergraduate students returned for the spring semester. The fall class of first year students was the largest and most accomplished class of enrolled students in university history. Last September, Samford announced its 12th consecutive year of record enrollment, defying national predictions of struggling fall enrollment nationwide due to COVID-19.
“During a season in which many private and public institutions are struggling with enrollment and retention, our university continues to experience sustainable, quality growth,” said Samford Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management R. Philip Kimrey. “We are so grateful for the innovation and resilience of our faculty and staff, especially amid these unprecedented times. The last year has demonstrated, more than ever, our campus community’s steadfast commitment to providing students with outstanding academic opportunities in a supportive and nurturing environment.”
At the onset of the pandemic last spring, the university adapted quickly and developed innovative, engaging ways to share the Samford experience with prospective, incoming and returning students. Samford’s faculty and leadership found ways to persevere, preserving the student experience and maintaining a focus on its mission to nurture the development of intellect, creativity and faith.
“Students, faculty and staff all deserve credit for making Samford's answer to the pandemic work,” added Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “In one of the most memorable semesters in Samford history, we experienced record enrollment and our largest-ever freshman class while implementing detailed plans to mitigate the risks for contracting and spreading COVID-19 on our campus.”
In addition to the university’s emphasis on maintaining the student experience, its commitment to health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic no doubt contributed to the uptick in retention and enrollment. Samford focused heavily on protecting the health and welfare of the Samford community, specifically by mitigating the risks for contracting and transmitting the virus. Through its robust plan, Bring Back the Bulldogs: A Guide for Returning to Campus, the university outlined its processes, procedures and expectations to keep its students safe while continuing to be a place of superior learning and personal development.
With the student experience in mind, Samford announced plans for in-person commencement activities this spring, and normal operations and instruction this fall.