NIU swells with new students

By Josh Albrecht

For the fifth year in a row, NIU has experienced an increase in the student population.

As of Sept. 7, enrollment figures showed an increase of 535 students, increasing total enrollment from 23,248 in 2000 to 23,783 this fall. NIU’s enrollment hasn’t been this high since 1992, when it topped 24,000.

With enrollment increasing by 1,000 students in the past two years, NIU President John Peters said he is concerned about the university’s ability to meet the demands of a larger student body.

“We are entering a period of time which real enrollment management — that is, careful consideration of resources, admission requirements and institutional goals — must be a top university priority,” Peters said.

Provost J. Ivan Legg will head NIU’s enrollment management team, which Legg refers to as a “think tank.”

“It’s not an official group, just a discussion group,” Legg said.

The group, which features an array of people from the entire university community, will examine every aspect of enrollment to determine where NIU needs to concentrate its efforts in the future.

As of now, though, Legg said he is very pleased with the latest figures.

“It says that there’s something attractive about coming to NIU,” Legg said.

As far as analyzing the data, Legg said they have to find out exactly why students are coming here — for example, some may be graduate students who are remaining in school because of a down economy.

Mikki Emmett, the assistant provost of student affairs, said the numbers mean NIU is doing well compared to other state schools.

“Now, we want to retain those students,” Emmett said. “Retention is very important.”

The enrollment figures also reflect the community and beyond, as the number of minority students, especially Latino students, is increasing. This year’s entering class has the largest number of Latino freshmen in NIU history, and 31 percent of entering freshmen are minorities.

“It reflects the real world,” Emmett said.

Along with increased minority enrollment, out-of-state student numbers increased by 50 this year, with the number of transfer students increasing by 2,331, which is eight more transfer students than last year’s increase.