Title: Anderson University just keeps growing
With 100 more students than last year -- and the biggest freshmen class in the school's history -- Anderson University just keeps on growing. "We're very happy," said Michael Collette, vice president for enrollment management and information systems. "This is a very exciting year here at Anderson University." In 1996, 2,136 students were enrolled at AU. This year, that number climbed to 2,382, with the highest increase in the advanced degree completion program.
"This is the largest enrollment in the history of the institution," Collette said. Enrollment has been increasing for the past four years, and it is a trend that's not expected to wane anytime soon.
"We're projecting a growth of about 2 percent per year over the next five years in the undergraduate program," Collette said.
Collette said he attributes the rise in enrollment to a number of factors, including the university's strong recruitment and retention efforts, along with the expansion and enhancement of non-traditional learning programs.
"Clearly the institution has developed a much stronger image, both regionally and nationally," he said. "We've become respected for having a strong academic program, a program with quality and rigor.
"We also have a very dynamic admission team that is both experienced and energetic. They do a good job of recruiting students."
Freshman Steve Redder is a product of those efforts.
The 18-year-old scholar from Phoenix, Ariz., graduated from high school last May and immediately set his sights on attending the small, Christian college.
He first heard about AU two years ago when a guidance counselor visited his hometown church. He poked around Arizona schools but didn't find what he was looking for.
"I wanted a Christian environment," he said. "Everyone here has religious education or is a good Christian."
Collette said that's definitely at the heart of the university's mission.
"This is a very dynamic Christian environment, an environment that encourages academic inquiry and discovery," he said.
But not all students are lured to AU for its religious affiliation.
"I picked AU for football," said Mike Reynolds, a freshmen business management major.
"But now that I'm up here, I like it more for the school. Everything I was looking for, I found here."
Reynolds said he benefits from the smaller class size and the one-on-one interaction with the faculty.
"The teachers care about you. They're concerned," he said. "You get more attention than you would get in a state school, where there are 500 people in a class."
The low student-to-faculty ratio is undoubtedly one of the university's top priorities. To accommodate for the growing student body, AU is continually adding to the full-time teaching staff, Collette said.
"We're trying to keep the faculty-to-student ratio low," he said, noting that it strives for 13 students to every one faculty member.
Furthermore, most of those faculty members have earned doctorates and are devoted solely to teaching. "We're not a research institution.
We're a teaching institution," he said. "That means that the faculty is in the classroom full time."
As for tuition prices, they've annually increased 4 percent over the past few years. This year, students paid $14,680. Collette said administrators have not discussed next year's tuition, but for many students, it doesn't make a difference. Their AU experience is worth the cost.
"It's worth it. You get a nice experience, and you get your money's worth of education," Reynolds said. "I love it up here."
--Jenna McKnight is a reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.