MISSOULA – The University of Montana today announced an overall, preliminary fall enrollment headcount of 12,419 students. This represents a 4.8 percent decrease in total enrollment at UM.
Fall 2016 headcount enrollment at the central mountain campus was down 6.1 percent, while Missoula College UM numbers were up 2.2 percent. The headcount for graduate students grew 3.9 percent.
Tom Crady, UM’s new vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, expressed concern with the continued reduction in the number of incoming freshmen.
“The size of our freshman class impacts enrollment for four to five years,” Crady said. “We’re intensifying our recruiting efforts with the top priority of boosting those numbers.”
When Crady arrived on campus this past summer, he began to evaluate the capacity of the admissions and recruiting office. His immediate plans include examining recruiting strategies for Montana high school students, expanding areas to target new non-resident students and taking the entire operation digital and eliminating paper files.
Crady also praised his team. “They are passionate about UM and work hard to bring new students to campus. Our recruiters visit every high school in Montana to share with prospective students all that UM has to offer,” he said.
Despite an overall reduction in the number of students, there are some positives worth noting within individual areas of the data. The Graduate School at UM increased from 2,030 students last fall to 2,110 this year. UM also has more nonresident students, a fact that will help meet budget projections.
Overall, the UM Office of Data/Institutional Research had projected and planned fiscally for a lower fall enrollment. “The fall numbers indicate that we are on course with meeting the targets around which we’ve built the budget,” said Dawn Ressel, UM associate vice president for planning, budgeting and analysis.
Missoula College UM showed a slight uptick in enrolled students this year, and dual enrollment was largely the reason. The number of high school students taking college courses at MC increased 37.2 percent, from 425 students to 583 for the fall term.
Enrollment challenges at UM continue at a time when the institution is enjoying immense success in many areas. Research awards approached $87 million this year, and expenditures were nearly $79 million – both new records. In August, the UM Foundation announced another fundraising record for the 2016 fiscal year, with $53.67 million in funds raised. Academic Analytics also ranked UM’s Wildlife Biology Program the best in the United States and Canada.
Crady sees opportunities for enrollment growth across the board.
“As I said when I arrived on campus, I’m excited about the quality of education, experiential learning, campus life and community that is available to our students – and at a very reasonable price for families,” he said. “More students should be benefiting from a University of Montana education.”