“UTPA is continuing to provide access and educational opportunities to more and more of the residents of the Valley and South Texas,” said Dennis McMillan, associate vice president for the Division of Enrollment and Student Services.
This semester’s increase is important because it occurs during an enrollment reporting year that the legislature will use to determine formula funding for UTPA, he said.
“The ‘base’ year figures will determine the amount of the formula funding we will receive in each of the two years in the upcoming biennium,” McMillan said.
McMillan attributes the increase in enrollment to two factors – recruiting new students to the University and retaining students who are already enrolled.
“UTPA has been working very hard in both categories. Our recruitment efforts have increased both the number of new and transfer students,” McMillan said. “We have continually adjusted our new student orientations to meet the needs of this population. Our transfer population has increased as we continue to work on partnerships with area community colleges.”
Student retention efforts were also critical to the enrollment increase. UTPA has many initiatives to bolster retention rates, including projects in categories such as leadership, learning communities, mentoring, involvement and engagement, he said.
“Any sustained growth rate such as UTPA has recently experienced is both exciting and challenging,” McMillan said. “It’s exciting because the division works hard to recruit and to provide services to retain the students we have.”
This fall, there are 14,174 undergraduate students and 611 post-baccalaureate students at UTPA. The University currently has 2,240 graduate students enrolled, an increase of almost 10 percent from fall 2003.
The number of international students enrolled rose to 341 this semester, an increase of 10 percent from last fall. Additionally, each of the six University colleges experienced an increase in enrollment this semester when compared to fall 2003.
With enrollment steadily increasing, the University hired an architectural consulting firm – Good, Fulton and Farrell – to develop a Master Plan for the institution through 2020. According to McMillan, this group is projecting the long-term needs for facilities and resources at UTPA.