By Kathryn Flippin
The 2011-2012 academic enrollment boasts a record-breaking, non-duplicating headcount of 5,301 students — the highest enrollment in Union’s history.
Union uses the non-duplicating process to determine the total number of students — including traditional undergraduate, non-traditional undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students — enrolled each year.
Students are only counted once, even if they participate in all five of Union’s terms.
The non-duplicating process begins at the start of each academic year. The total headcount is not announced until the five terms — fall, spring, winter, June and July— have commenced.
The university usually gets an estimate for how the year will go based upon the fall enrollment figures.
On Aug. 31, Union announced that for the 15th straight year, fall enrollment has increased, with 4,259 students registered.
While Union’s headcount has been growing for the past 15 years, the focus for a “future-directed” university has been in place since the adoption of four core values in June 1996.
Last year, with the 2010-2011 figure reaching more than 5,000 for the first time, students, faculty and staff realized this core value, along with a people-centered understanding, was surpassing expectations.
“We work hard (to recruit students), but it is God’s favor and his blessing that ultimately makes us grow,” said Rich Grimm, senior vice president for enrollment services. “I would also attribute it to Dr. Dockery’s vision for the university. The way he is esteemed for his work, as well as his reputation for leading with integrity and focus, shows how he has created a culture for growth.”
Grimm said he also thinks the intentionality and attitude toward developing faith from each branch of the university draws prospective students.
“This is a faith-nurtured, encouraging community that challenges one to think beyond the norm to establish Christian, intellectual traditions,” Grimm added.
It is this Christian, intellectual thinking that drew Madelyn Carson, junior music education major from Mapleton, Maine, to Union four years ago.
“I think Union is very intentional about presenting a strong faith-based lifestyle while also presenting a strong intellectual atmosphere,” Carson said. “It does not give up either one of those — it is not an either/or type of thing but a place that encourages both.”
The university is very good at advertising this idea by letting people know that both are important. The community proclaims, ‘We are Christ-centered,’ but inside that focus is also the commitment to academic success.”
With enrollment numbers of students from places such as New England and even Alaska, Union continues to dispatch this Christ-centered and scholarly thinking to prospective students. The university hopes to attract like-minded students, Grimm said.
“Never does the Union community set out to say, ‘We want 5,300 students or more,’ but, when all of these things (a mix between intellectual purpose and faith-nurturing) happen, growth comes — never for growth itself, but because Union creates this unique culture,” Grimm added.