By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
For the first time ever, the state’s two largest universities have multi-campus enrollments of more than 20,000 students each.
Preliminary figures released Friday by the state Institutions of Higher Learning showed the University of Mississippi leading with 20,822 at its campuses in Oxford, Jackson, Tupelo, Southaven, Booneville and Grenada, up 6.5 percent from last fall.
“The best news about the enrollment growth is that it will result in more graduates for our state and region,” Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones said. “The future of our state is directly tied to our success in education. More graduates from the fine academic programs at the University of Mississippi will mean a stronger, healthier state and a more robust economy in the future.”
Mississippi State University has 20,424 students on its Starkville and Meridian campuses, an increase of 4 percent, and more than three-quarters are from inside Mississippi.
“This all-time record enrollment figure, especially the high percentage of students from Mississippi, is a strong indication of the confidence those students have in our ability to help them become the future leaders of our state and nation,” said MSU President Mark Keenum.
Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds agreed with the CEOs’ assessments.
“A better-educated citizenry stabilizes the economy and creates better opportunities to bring good jobs to our state,” he said. “Our universities are a collective, powerful and unmatched resource for advancing Mississippi.”
The state’s third comprehensive institution, the University of Southern Mississippi, increased 4.6 percent to 16,506.
Historically black universities posted the system’s largest enrollment gain and loss. The only institution to lose enrollment over last fall is Mississippi Valley State University, whose current enrollment of 2,526 makes it the smallest of Mississippi’s public universities. Alcorn State University made the largest proportional jump, increasing fall enrollment by 19.3 percent over last year.
Mississippi University for Women showed a 2.9 percent increase to 2,663.
Systemwide, enrollment is up some 5.2 percent, now totaling 80,859.