Enrollment throughout the University of Texas System continues to increase, and The University of Texas-Pan American is no exception.
According to official University figures, 12,761 students are enrolled for the fall 2000 semester - 11,189 undergraduates, 1,511 graduates and 61 doctoral students. That's an increase of about 1.6 percent from the 12,567 students enrolled last fall (10,922 undergraduates, 1,580 graduates and 65 doctoral).
UTPA remains the fifth largest school among the UT System's nine academic institutions. UT Austin is the largest at slightly more than 50,000, followed by UT Arlington (20,500), UT San Antonio (18,900) and UT El Paso (15,200).
"We are doing a better job in retaining students, particularly in the undergraduate programs," said Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services. "This improvement stems from the emphasis we've had on enrolling better prepared students. We will continue that emphasis."
Semester credit hour enrollment - the number of hours for which students enroll - also has increased slightly, from 134,869 hours to 135,729 hours. This year, undergraduates have enrolled for 127,261 hours, followed by graduates with 8,069 hours and doctoral students with 399 hours.
Graduate departments showing the most growth in semester credit hour enrollment are mathematics, 100 percent (54 hours to 108 hours); accounting and law, 76.19 percent (126 to 222); and rehabilitative services, 67.07 percent (246 to 411).
At the undergraduate level, the greatest gains were in occupational therapy, 122.43 percent (272 to 605); physician assistant studies, 108.79 percent 387 to 808); music, 51.8 percent (3,280 to 4,979); computer information systems and quantitative methods, 32.34 percent (3,825 to 5,062); and dietetics, 31.13 percent (530 to 695).
Meanwhile, the number of special freshmen and students in the University Scholars program continue to show strong growth.
A special freshman/concurrent enrollment student is a student taking university courses while in high school. This fall, there are 154 special freshmen, a 15.8 percent increase from the 133 a year ago, and 126 percent more than the 68 special freshmen enrolled in 1997.
Started in 1998, the University Scholars program allows entering freshmen from Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties the opportunity to receive a four-year tuition and fees Distinguished Achievement Scholarship and designation as a University Scholar.
In just three years, the program has grown tremendously. Eighty-two of the 133 applicants were accepted this year, a jump of more than 330 percent from the 19 of 22 applicants approved in 1998.
"We believe that encouraging eligible high school students to come to our campus for these courses is a very attractive prospect for talented, high ability students," Edwards said. "We also think that the possibility of their becoming University Scholars provides them with another incentive."
During August's fall convocation, UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevarez outlined three initiatives - improve student access and success, be a state leader in preparing qualified and committed public school teachers, and become a regional research university for South Texas.
According to Edwards, the University is well on its way to achieving these goals.
"We are in the process of developing more recruitment and retention strategies to provide our students with more avenues for being successful," Edwards said. "This effort will be University-wide and delineates the goals set forth by President Nevarez."