The University of Jamestown is at its highest enrollment since 2002 with 1,135 students, an increase of 3.3% from the previous academic year, said Polly Peterson, president of UJ.
This marks the second-highest enrollment in UJ history, and programs across campus are reaping the benefits, Peterson said. Specific degree programs with more students include nursing, exercise science, business, biology and mechanical engineering.
Peterson said the university will graduate over 200 students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in May of 2020.
"We want to recruit graduates," said Greg Ulland, vice president of enrollment management at UJ. "There's certain programs that need to grow and we're going to continue to push those programs and continue to bring in the quality students we want to become graduates of Jamestown (University of Jamestown)."
A focal point for the university has not only been recruiting new students to UJ's campus, but being able to retain those same students at the school until they complete their degree.
"For us, there's been a real emphasis on retention," Peterson said. "Recruiting students that really fit the University of Jamestown's mission and who want to be here and become graduates of the university."
Peterson said graduate level programs have been implemented to not only attract new students but also to potentially keep undergraduate students at UJ who wish to further pursue an education beyond a bachelor's degree.
"We've added four graduate programs. Education, leadership, counseling and physical therapy," Peterson said. "We are hoping to grow to 1,500 (students), which includes our undergrad and graduate students. We'll be adding some new programs to support that enrollment growth."
Over the next five years, Peterson said the university plans to add programs related to agricultural business, computer science and business administration. A program for physician assistant or nurse practitioner could also be added.
Peterson said the increase in undergraduate enrollment should directly impact the university's enrollment at the graduate level if students decide to pursue graduate programs in Jamestown.
"Absolutely, one feeds the other," Peterson said. "Our master's in education program is extremely popular. We were already full for May (2020), so we're opening up a second cohort because it's such a program that is in demand."
The graduate students in education will double with a second cohort, from 25 students to 50 starting in May of next year.
The increased enrollment has had a ripple effect across multiple facets of the university, including athletics and the performing arts. Peterson said an emphasis in recruiting new students this year was individuals with a passion for choir and theater.
"What we find at a small school is that students who come to UJ want to be involved outside the classroom," Peterson said. "They (new students) choose us because they can continue to do what they want to do while studying what they eventually want to do as a career."
Recent additions to appeal to new students include a men's volleyball team, a competitive Esports team and a second hockey team.
Peterson said that despite being a private institution, students often find UJ is more affordable than anticipated, with the average student paying $16,000 annually for tuition, room, board and books. Peterson said this is just over half of the "sticker price" for an education at UJ.
"We're more affordable than UND (University of North Dakota) and NDSU (North Dakota State University), and people don't know that," Peterson said. "We've had tremendous support from alumni to help us grow the amount of scholarships that are now available to our students."
Despite increasing enrollment, Peterson said class sizes still remain a priority for the university, which has an approximate faculty to student ration of 11.5 to one. Peterson said the largest classes on campus have roughly 40 students.
One of the few problems Peterson said comes with an increase in enrollment is a shortage of housing units available for students on campus. A solution to this problem is already underway, Peterson said, as a new mixed use building called UJ Place is scheduled to open in time for 2020 academic year.
UJ Place, which is currently being constructed near Harold Newman Arena on campus, will be a five-story building that will accommodate 112 additional students on campus on the top four floors. The main floor will be leased out for commercial use, including potential restaurants, bars and coffee shops for both students and the community. A garage will be built below the building for tenants to park their vehicles.
"Yes, we are growing our population of students, but we also need to diversify the kind of housing we're providing for students," Peterson said. "It's been a long time since we've added a residence hall here."
Peterson said of the 1,135 students currently enrolled at the university, only about 35 are part-time students. Aside from this showing school officials a growing need for housing on campus, Peterson said it also reflects the university's ability to attract students who attend the university full time.
"Our students are here (at UJ), and they're full-time students," Peterson said. "It's interesting when you hear about massive enrollment growth at some of these other schools in the state. If you dig deeper you'll notice that those are very different enrollments."
Peterson said the university does not offer dual-enrollment like other universities, and with so little part-time students, she said UJ's enrollment is an accurate depiction of how many students are on the school's campus full time.
"It's a work in progress," Ulland said. "We have goals of growing a lot more than we have in the last year.
"We want to recruit graduating Jimmies," Ulland said. "We want to recruit alumni."