Student enrollment at The University of Texas-Pan American continued on its recent trend of steady increases as unofficial numbers indicate a more than six percent increase from last year.
This spring there are 16,147 students enrolled at the University - an increase of almost 1,000 from the spring 2004 semester. Official enrollment numbers will not be released from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions until later this month.
Dennis McMillan, associate vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said enrollment increases are accomplished with a combination of two dynamics.
"Enrollment increases occur when new and returning students enroll in greater numbers, and students who were here last semester persist at a higher rate," he said.
The Enrollment Projections Team at UTPA, comprised of seven representatives from various departments, provide short and long-term projections for planning purposes. The team, in conjunction with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), project fall 2005 enrollment to be 18,122. By 2015, enrollment at UT Pan American is expected to be 29,451.
"Considering the predicted growth in the Valley and improvements in the preparation of high school students, the projections are probably on the conservative side," said Dr. Susan Griffith, executive director of the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness.
She said THECB projections are always fairly accurate for short term projections. However, the further out into the future the predictions go, the less accurate they are, she said, which is normally true for most forecasting systems.
"The THECB relies on demographic projections for our market area, but they don't take into account any recruitment or retention initiatives we may implement, because they don't know what we're going to do in the future," Griffith said.
This academic year, 175 faculty members were hired to accommodate the rise in enrollment at UT Pan American.
"The University is hiring more faculty members in order to make sure students have classes to attend. This semester we added an additional 178 course sections, which means an additional 9,000 student spaces in classes," said Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, provost/vice president for Academic Affairs. "The different colleges are also offering more courses in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate students' work schedules."
Arévalo also said the University will continue to add additional parking spaces and encourage students to take classes at varied times during the day to better serve the increase of students.